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BUi^ Days 

Jean Francois Millet 

Barhizon Days 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Boston Public Library 




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Copyright, 1902 


A. Wessels Company 
New Yosk 


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A decade of years ago, we pitched our 
summer tent at Bourron, a little hamlet on 
the borders of the Forest of Fontainebleau ; 
or rather we occupied another's tent, for our 
dwelling was a grey stone cottage similar to 
that of the peasants — our neighbors and 
friends. The Forest itself was only a few 
rods distant and my study, the summer 
through, was in the open air and under the 
boughs of one of its noble trees. 

Sitting at my neighbors' board, when 
their day's work was done, roaming the 
wood in all directions, searching out 
especially the haunts of the artists, the 
months glided away all too fast. There 
were not hours enough in which to write of 
all the artists I would have selected as themes. 

These sketches are not art criticism, they 
are but the chronicle of that summer. If 
they make clearer the relation between na- 
ture and art, suggest that art's alphabet is 
everywhere awaiting only the seeing eye, or 
if I have been able to give again in part the 
inspiration obtained from that summer's con- 
verse with the strong, this record of Barbizon 
Days will have accomplished its purpose. 

New York, July i, 1902 





Group of Jules Dupre 


The Forest of Fontainebleau 


The Forest of Fontainebleau 

If we call up before our minds the places 
made notable by great achievements in mod- 
ern art history, Paris and other centres of 
European life suggest themselves. The only 
exception to this rule, so far as I know, is a 
tiny hamlet, a single street, bounded on the 
one side by the Forest of Fontainebleau and 
on the other by a broad plain. It is asserted 
that, between 1825 and 186 o, there gathered 
about an inn table in this hamlet the largest 
group of men of creative power with the 
brush, that have ever assembled anywhere 
since the Renaissance. 

A day in the Forest and in the hamlet of 
Barbizon now, after a half century's inter- 
val, cannot give the same impressions of 
either wood or village which those *^men of 
1830'' received. For the forest has been 
transformed, its solitudes have been made ac- 
cessible, and thus, to the artist, profaned ; and 
the hamlet has been bound to the great 
world, not merely by broad carriage roads, 
displacing a foot-path across the forest, but 
even by a railroad that passes Rousseau's and 
Barye's cottages and Millet's atelier. 


Yet, if one follows day after day the lure 
of the wood-paths and loiters or hastens as 
the hour and Nature invite, the forest, per- 
suaded that you are not a trifler, will admit 
you to so intimate a companionship that you 
can think away every profanation; and, to 
recall the hamlet seek out the less frequented 
villages, even though remoter from the 
wood, and recreate, with features borrowed 
from one and the other, that old peasant 
street, hidden away from the world, leading 
from the plain of labor to the cow-gate, the 
opening into the wood, through which each 
morning the herdsman drove the cattle of 
the village to their pasture in the forest. 

The Forest of Fontainebleau cannot have 
been in 1830 in any true sense a primeval 
forest. Man had used it too long for his 
own purposes. Some one of the early Cape- 
tian dukes or kings built in its centre a don- 
jon, already old in the time of Louis VII. 
(i2th century) when we have the first his- 
torical record of its existence. In later 
centuries, a Renaissance chateau, largely the 
work of Fran9ois I., displacing the feudal 
donjon, became the favorite residence, out- 
side of Paris, of the Kings of France. And 
in the forest glades, men and women, whom 


B A ^jN ■_ 

Yet lay aiicr aay lae lure 

'^ ' 11 ^j. i;^astens as 

mvL forest, per- 

il admit 
^ at you 
oiai. nd, to 

K out the less ii ted 

. even luough remoter fruiii the 
and recreate, with features borrowed 
and the other, that old peasant 
iidden away from the world, leading 
1 the plain of labor to the cow-gate, the 
ope ^ ^^^ -.jJ " which each 

the village 

morning tUw iic 

iuc a don- 
ac umu ui Louis YII. 

we have ^^ ^ ^ ^ ' 
lo exis^ 
uaissance * ' 
Vv r,. oi rran9ois I., di 
.loHjOn, became the ^ 
ide of Paris, of the ivingb 
in the forest glades, men ai) in 


history names, hunted and disported them- 
selves. Numberless paths traversed the v^ood 
and a road had been built about it as early 
as in the time of Henri IV. (1589— 1610). 

The forest had not only lost, by 1830, in 
a large degree, its primeval savagery, its 
mystery of the unexplored ; but it had never 
been vast enough for a true empire of 
Nature. It is only fifty miles in circumfer- 
ence, not more than ten in average breadth, 
and there are neither lakes nor mountains in 
its entire domain, only shallow pools and low 
ranges of hills. 

In a primeval forest the sunlight scarce 
penetrates ; the trees are too tall, their crests 
too serried to allow the sun's rays to glide 
between. There is no green undergrowth, 
for the soil is buried deep beneath the brown 
leaves. You cannot go far in a straight line. 
Bristling barriers or long, narrow mounds, 
the dying or dead boles of old forest kings, 
obstruct the path. Bird-notes are rare. 
Mountain tops reveal a world of pine and 
oak, of maple and birch, sweeping in grand 
undulations to the horizon's verge. Between 
the hills, blue lakes rest, free of all intrusion 
save the native life of the woods. In mid-air, 
above a lake, an eagle or an osprey floats. 



The Forest of Fontainebleau, in the 1 9th 
century at least, knew nothing of all this. 
And, since its limited area with its many- 
centuries of subjection to man forbade long 
ago that it should be a primeval forest, I 
hold they have done right who have ad- 
mitted air and light to the wood, and, com- 
pleting the work of earlier foresters, have 
made of the whole a grove, not of one char- 
acter but manifold; now choked with un- 
dergrowth, now stretching in vast open 
templed aisles, and now, with lesser trees 
withdrawn a space paying homage to some 
grand oak that sheltered perhaps the first 
French king and survives the last. 

The Master of it all, the Lord Creator 
of its surpassing beauty, is the Sun, who fills 
its atmosphere with life, bands its trunks, 
drips in diamonds from myriad leaf-tips at 
the sunset hour, makes gold-yellow the 
fresh green of the under-growth, bejewels 
heather and vagrant flowers and rests a mel- 
low sheen on lichen-covered rocks and in 
open glades. The Forest of Fontainebleau 
has to-day a beauty all its own and every 
whit as overpowering, when you have come 
under its spell, as the grand, stern beauty of 
primeval Nature. 



I ' ^at t} 

A good friend 
neigl d me once and again I must 

not 1 >rest without paying at least 

one vi ul Mare aux Fees, 

the Fairies' Pond, and I have just returned 
therefrom. The way thither had a charm of 

ined of 

s an i of powt 



i otten only by 



c4 ''Mare'' 


I have said that the wood has no lakes, 
only shallow pools. A good friend and 
neighbor has told me once and again I must 
not leave the forest without paying at least 
one visit to the beautiful Mare aux Fees, 
the Fairies' Pond, and I have just returned 
therefrom. The way thither had a charm of 
noble woods, cleansed of decay and pruned of 
after-growth. The trees dwarfed as I drew 
nearer the Mare. I reached it at last, a tiny 
shallow pond, half choked with reeds and 
whatever else Nature sends forth from her 
storehouse to do battle with water and make 
of ponds first marshes and then rich meadow 

But if the wood is without the charm of 
lakes, it has an element of power and variety 
that few primeval forests can boast. Eight 
to ten ranges of low sandstone hills traverse 
it from east to west, separated often only by 
narrow gorges. Broken tables of stone 
are heaped up in fantastic piles in the 
gorges' bottom or tilted against each other 
on the slopes. Huge blocks are strewn 
broadcast everywhere among the trees. The 
gorges of Apremont and Franchard suggest 
Milton's description of the battle between 
the hosts of heaven and hell, where hills 


were plucked up by their roots and hurled, 
encountering mid-air, the wrack falling to 
earth. To the forest this rock scenery adds 
a note of savagery, and Fenimore Cooper 
must have had this feature especially in mind 
when he said that the Forest of Fontaine- 
bleau exceeded in savage variety anything he 
had ever seen in America. 

Such . then, though more primeval in 
places and more reserved to the few, was the 
forest which the men of 1830 knew. 

The Fontainebleau villages have a rich 
and varied charm of novelty and art-sugges- 
tion for the eye accustomed only to the 
countryside of the New World. But the 
masters of 1830 had not such other-world 
images in their eyes. The Norman peasant. 
Millet had seen elsewhere in France villages 
differing only in unimportant details. The 
distinctive feature of Barbizon, to the men 
of 1830, was that its isolation served as a 
screen to shut away all suggestions of mani- 
fold activities and interests, and concentrate 
attention upon man in his few primeval re- 
lations to Nature — man as husbandman, man 
as husband and father. 

To-day, apart from its associations with 
Millet and his friends and its setting of plain 


The Chaos cf the Gorges of c/lpremont 

B A 


nave a rich 
id art-sugges- 

' - to the- 

^ mei 
d as a 



and forest, Barbizon yields in rural charm 
and artistic suggestion to other Fontaine- 
bleau villages. 

Montigny looks down from its towered 
church, overtopping huddled gray cottages, 
upon the Loing as it glides, a modest river, 
between banks sentineled with closely 
trimmed poplar trees. By the riverside, 
near the tiny bridge, where the white and 
color of kerchief and apron can catch the 
sunlight, the women of the hamlet wash 
their clothes. If you linger till the noon 
hour, the exhaling river breath will fuse the 
green of the poplar leaves into a silver haze. 

Through Moret and past Grez the Loing 
flows also ; Moret has noble turreted gate- 
ways and Grez a church more picturesque 
than that of Montigny, riverscapes more 
alluring, and a ruined chateau said to be of 
Queen Blanche, mother of St. Louis. 

Thomery has covered the high walls of 
its narrow streets, the street ends and fa9ades 
of its houses with lush vine leaves ; and the 
heavy green pendant bunches are the chas- 
selas, best of all the grapes of Northern 
France. Larchant, a tiny village away from 
the forest, was to Millet and his friends a 
shrine of yearly pilgrimage. It was once a 



walled town of some importance with a noble 
church, contemporary of Notre Dame of 
Paris, and sacred to Mathurin, a local saint, 
born here in the fourth century, whose 
miracle-working tomb it covered. But the 
Calvinists sacked the church in 1567, and 
two centuries later, 1778, a conflagration 
swept the town and completed the work 
of the iconoclasts. A solitary dismantled 
tower rises high above the plain; around 
and over it multitudes of black-winged 
birds hover, as in Millet's painting of the 
Greville church. 

In the old days of post travel, Chailly 
was the last relay station on the high road 
from Paris to Fontainebleau. Barbizon, a 
hamlet of Chailly, across the fields and about 
a mile away, was formed of a single short 
street a half-mile in length joining plain 
and forest. The houses or farmsteads lining 
it consisted of open courts, where the manure 
was thrown, the cows milked, the poultry 
fed, the children played. About each court 
stood the stables and the dwelling. There 
was no church, no market-place, no inn, 
not even a graveyard in the hamlet. The 
only access to it was afl^orded by the almost 
impassable road across the fields from Chailly 


M^^ ^^ 




liic work 


c plain; around 

)f black-winged 

s Minting of the 






ciub lining 

the manure 

che poultry 





and a path through the forest, that left 
the highway between Chailly and Fontaine- 

Barbizon was discovered. Will Low tells 
us, in 1824. Two artists, Claude Aligny and 
Philippe Le Dieu, had come to Fontaine- 
bleau to visit their friend Jacob Petit, direc- 
tor of a porcelain manufactory. The three 
started one day to explore the forest in quest 
of themes for the brush. By nightfall they 
had lost their way. Following the sound of 
a horn and of tinkling bells they came upon 
a cow-herd, who told them they were in 
the gorge of Apremont and six miles from 
Fontainebleau. He led them to the nearby 
village of Barbizon and the house of Fran9ois 
Ganne, a thrifty peasant, who with his 
young wife occupied two rooms, one as 
sleeping apartment, the other for his trade 
as tailor and for the sale of wine. Ganne 
could provide food but not lodging, so the 
cow-herd let them pass the night on the 
straw with his cattle. The next morning 
they explored the portion of the wood near- 
est the hamlet, the Bas Breau, I presume, 
and were so amazed and delighted there- 
with that Aligny and Le Dieu insisted that 
Ganne should receive them as permanent 



lodgers. Ganne saw his advantage and 
consented, ceding to them his bedroom and, 
with his wife, taking up his own abode in 
the barn. 

Word was brought back to Paris of the 
discovery of this bit of unspoiled primitive 
Nature only a day's walk distant from that 
most rnodern of European capitals, and the 
next year the artists invaded the place, occu- 
pying every available nook and corner. Ganne 
provided food for all. Those who could 
not find lodgings in Barbizon stopped in 
Chailly at the White Horse, among others 
Corot, Rousseau, Barye, Diaz. 

In 1830 Ganne bought a large barn and 
fitted it up as a two-story hotel with win- 
dows on the north side for studios. On the 
ground floor there was an immense dining- 
room and cafe with billiard table and balls 
as large as a man's fist. All the artists took 
lodgings with him. In the height of the 
season some slept on the top of the table and 
others in the barn loft on the straw. Be- 
tween 1825 and i860 nearly every French 
artist and representative artists from every 
other civilized nation visited Barbizon. 

It was a glad and sane ^^vie de Boheme" 
these men led, to judge from Low's report. 



fXrkJtJ. S4.JLiV 

.KT.r^e in 

pitals, and 

le place, o^.... 

.1 y ct-v 

.v. corner. Ganne 

'hose who could 


KW Hti -topped in 

^n^ "].. 


Each season one was chosen as leader and 
the joint pleasures took on a more serious or 
boisterous tone according to the leader's 
temperament. Under Gerome they deco- 
rated the panels of the dining-room; under 
Amedee Servint, the troupe invaded in 
masquerade on horseback the outlying vil- 

It was the law of the place to rise early, 
the most diligent at five, and be off to the 
forest, the fun not commencing till after the 
dinner hour. Each newcomer had to smoke 
Diaz's pipe. If the color of the smoke were 
iridescent he was declared a colorist, if gray 
a classicist. The most jovial festival of all 
was at the marriage of Ganne's youngest 
daughter to Eugene Cuvelier, an artist of 
Arras. The feast was held in a barn, candles 
in tin baskets served as lanterns, ivy as deco- 
ration. Rousseau and Millet were the chief 
decorators. Corot led the bottle dance, first 
slowly, then fast and faster. Empty bottles 
were placed at equal distances from each 
other and the dancers had to pass between. 
Whoever tipped over a bottle was out of the 
dance. He who survived received the prize, 
a flower from the bride. 

Corot, Rousseau and Barye came in 1830 




and stayed after the others had left. Corot 
came only irregularly; Rousseau after 1849 
spent only his summers there ; Barye spent 
summer and fall until his death; to Millet 
it was home all the year round. 

The good ^^ vie de Boheme'' has vanished 
with the artists from Barbizon never to re- 
turn. But, though the hamlet itself has been 
transformed, its setting remains essentially 

The plain of labor stretches away, broken 
by clumps of trees, hamlets, towns, to Paris 
in the distance. In its fields men and women 
are sowing, reaping, gleaning, driving cattle, 
sheep to pasture, watching sheep by night; 
the old farm at the village end and the tow- 
ering hayricks remain, and still, from the 
tower of Chailly church, the Angelus calls 
at the sunset hour. 

Still in the Bas Breau, noblest wilderness 
of all the forest and at the very door of Bar- 
bizon, the grand trees speak as they spoke to 
Rousseau; still in open glades the play of 
light and shadow lures and witches as it did 
Diaz ; still the gorges of Franchard oflfer 
the background for scenes of animal life 
they gave to Barye. The cattle of Troyon 
are still at pasture in the meadows, and so 



everywhere Nature offers, essenu^ 
changed, the originals whereof the l... 
of 1830 are the art interpretations. C^... 
only is absent in spirit, for the sun-steeped 
haze and the idyllic tone of his best can- 
vases are riot of Fontainebleau. 

The ^Tt\^.t'^ whn h^vr ^nnrpmely eX* 

r>rPRf^pH ' hf* fun-. 

door, . 

the gna .,^_ K^. ^ 

for a moment with surpasb.x.^ ^.. 
seau as interpreter of the woods. . w.^o. 
wnrd the. rmnire is all his. His single 

fn he- reveal er of the trees 

n nnrnf-^ Stem «=*J'^^ 

A]o;n ..^ 


every wli'^. 
into silenr 
We a. 

bizon to ^rfrr 

:tm:T^ ^%v. ■■ 'W^T" 


Millet and Rousseau 


everywhere Nature offers, essentially un- 
changed, the originals whereof the canvases 
of 1830 are the art interpretations. Corot 
only is absent in spirit, for the sun-steeped 
haze and the idyllic tone of his best can- 
vases are not of Fontainebleau. 

The artists who have supremely ex- 
pressed the genius of the place, are the two 
whose medallions have been set in the rock 
near the old cow-gate. Millet and Rousseau ; 
Millet as interpreter of human life indoors 
and out, and of those landscapes which 
spring held up before him at his studio 
door, when the air was moist yet clear and 
the gnarled apple trees clothed themselves 
for a moment with surpassing glory; Rous- 
seau as interpreter of the woods. Forest- 
ward the empire is all his. His single 
steadfast purpose to be revealer of the trees 
to man has made each noble stem, each 
bosky group, his own. 

Before 1830 Fontainebleau, plain and 
forest, was as beautiful as to-day, grander 
perhaps, but inarticulate; now it is voiceful 
everywhere, and it will not soon lapse back 
into silence. 

We are too close to those men of Bar- 
bizon to determine whether or not they 

[ 23 ] 


created immortal works, and yet, one thing 
at least we may affirm without fear of err- 
ing : some of their canvases, as the *^ Sheep- 
Fold at Night'' of Millet and the ^^Hoar 
Frost'' of Rousseau, will long offer defiance 
to forgetfulness. Both paintings are in Mr. 
Walter's gallery in Baltimore. 


oVtiu^?* ^^fe\VilJl o^ ^:inE'\^nS. 

V^' ■. ;':'l-5..; 



Entrance to Millet's Studio 




Those lives are worthiest that strike 
deepest root in the soil of our common life 
and are yet most responsive to the inspira- 
tions that come from the spaces beyond. 

They are akin to the century-old 
children of the wood, that grasp tenaciously 
the black subsoil of the forest and aspire 
steadfastly toward the sunlight. Both grow 
gnarled and gray in the struggle, the tree 
and the man. The stancher, the longer- 
lived of the twain, speaks often courage to 
his feebler comrade. Where such comrade- 
ship has existed, the spirit of those long 
communings lingers in the still forest. 

There is a life we would talk over with 
the trees of the Forest of Fontainebleau, one 
that, wearied with the work, the disappoint- 
ment and the pains of life, came to them 
constantly for sympathy and drew as con- 
stantly renewal of strength from their 

Jean-Franfois Millet found the work 
given him to do, and therein he implanted 
his life. Its fruits were rugged, harsh to 
the taste of his generation. He might have 



drawn, from shallower soil, that which 
pleased. But his simple, peasant nature, 
close in its qualities to the homely, in-- 
dustrious, fruit-bearing earth ; akin in its 
tenacity of purpose to the firm-rooted oaks 
of his beloved forest, refused and refused 
again and turned back to work and suffer. 

The canvases into which his experiences 
and aspirations, his life, were wrought, the 
children born of his constant pain and want, 
are freed now, and while he rests, as the 
forest trees rest, when their work is accom- 
plished, these immortal ones are making the 
mystery of night more sensible, are deepening 
the religious sentiment in an age that needs 
that quickening, are intoning in grand, 
sober, rugged strophes the epic of toil. 

Jean-Fran9ois Millet was born the 4th of 
October, 1 8 1 4, at Gruchy, and was the 
second of nine children. Henley says: 
" In the commune of Greville, on the iron- 
bound coasts of la Manche, stands the little 
hamlet of Gruchy. It is built at the sea's 
edge, on the granite clifl^s of la Hague, 
overlooking the stormy waters of Cherbourg 
Roads; but it is situate, for all that, in a 
fertile and pleasant valley, rich in grass, 



'iltet^s Birthplace at Gmchy 

(Elder sister standing in the door'wayj 



:iy, in- 


bC to mc nrm- 

ad turacii Da 
canvases into 

Ms Hi vjugiii, inc 

V u^v. ca born oi his consiant pam and want, 
arc fn: ' nd while he n 

/hen their work is accom- 

iking the 

\\} ita ^s^i^^ x^iM^ < -epening 

;' :<::^^j\^i\y^^>fi^^^'^^^^ at needs 



t- 4th of 

as the 

'/ Says : 

le iron- 

le little 

le sea's 



t, in a 



corn and wood, covered with herds and 
peopled with a race of husbandmen." The 
hamlet consisted of from twenty to twenty- 
five houses, and Millet said : '' A stranger 
was rarely seen there, and such a silence 
reigned that the clucking of a hen or the 
cackling of a goose created a sensation." 
The village life was a patriarchal one. In 
the winter, the women sewed and spun, 
while the men wove baskets, and, as they 
worked, the old fables of the country were 
retold and the noe/s sung. 

The home of the Millets, Yriarte describes 
as "a long, low house of unhewn gray stone, 
roughly cemented together, capped with a 
high-pitched thatched roof. An old, gnarled 
vine half hides one part of the front under 
its green leaves." This type of peasant- 
house is a very common one to-day in 
Normandy and Brittany, though tiles have 
frequently displaced the thatch. 

Although the means were straitened, an 
open-handed hospitality ruled. The wayfarer 
and the beggar were always welcomed to a 
full share of warmth and nourishment, as 
the ancient traditions of that part of France 
enjoin. The father was of a simple, gentle, 
devout nature. He was *^ passionately fond 



of music and the precentor of the Gruchy 
church, where he led and trained a choir 
that was the envy and admiration of all the 
countryside." He had a tender and reverent 
love for Nature, and was ever pointing out 
to his son the beauty of the landscape, as a 
whole, or of the little and greater things 
that cornposed it, the grass, the trees. The 
neighbor's house, half-hidden behind a swell 
of the field, impressed him as a picture. 
The son recalls him moulding in clay and 
carving in wood. 

The mother was descended from the 
Henry du Perron, a family of rich farmers, 
regarded at one time as among the gentry of 
the region. Simple, pious, devoted to her 
family, and wholly submissive to her hus- 
band's will, she passed her life chiefly in the 
fields and stables. For, it was, we are told, 
the custom of the country that the wife 
should perform the work of an out-of-door 
laborer, while the headship within doors re- 
mained in the hands of the husband's mother. 

The strong personalities of the Gruchy 
home were the grandmother and the great- 
uncle. The former, Louise Jumelin, widow 
of Nicolas Millet, was a peasant woman of 
the best type, industrious, clear-headed, born 



to command. Her family was ^' old country 
stock, strong heads and warm hearts." She 
is described as *^ consumed by religious fire, 
severe for herself, gentle and charitable 
toward others, passing her life in good 
works, and with the ideal of sainthood 
constantly before her eyes."^ She was so 
scrupulous and modest, touching her own 
conduct, that she invariably sought the 
counsel of the village curate, whenever a 
doubt arose about any action of her life. 
^^Her religion blended itself,'' Millet said, 
^'with a love of Nature. All that was 
beautiful, grand, terrible, appeared to her as 
the work of the Creator, whose will she 
respected and adored.'' Fran9ois was her 
favorite grandson, her godson and the oldest 
boy, and she gave to him the name of her 
chosen saint, Fran9ois d' Assise. Millet re- 
calls her entering his bedroom one morning, 
when he was but a little lad. " Awake, my 
little Fran9ois," she said ; ^* if you only knew 
how long a time the birds have been singing 
the glory of the good God ! " 

The uncle, Charles Millet, was one of 

* Henry Naegely says that Millet's portrait of his grandmother rep- 
resented her with large eyes, a firm, rather wide mouth, curving with 
kindness, and a powerful face, refined and softened by a shadow of 
mysticism. Her attire was always rigid in neatness and simplicity. 



those priests whom the revolution had 
unfrocked. He stanchly refused to swear 
allegiance to the constitution, believing that 
it infringed the rights of the Pope. During 
the Reign of Terror, he was proscribed and 
had many hairbreadth escapes. When 
again at liberty to assume his sacred office, 
he joined, with the work of priest and 
teacher, that of peasant. We see him, a 
giant in strength, carrying huge blocks of 
granite to build a wall, or holding the 
plough handle, with breviary in pocket and 
cassock tucked up to his waist, entering, in 
a word, into all the labors of peasant life 
with the energy and zest of a man of 
vigorous and helpful temperament; or — 
a gentler side of his nature — teaching the 
poor children of the commune. 

Fran9ois' early education was pushed 
quite far, it would seem, for a peasant's son. 
He began the study of Latin at twelve and, 
though compelled to devote a large part of 
his time — later his entire time — to the fields, 
he conquered early the elementary difficulties 
of the language and acquired a love therefor 
which continued all through life. Virgil 
and the Latin Bible were from this time 
forward favorite books. 



From the years of his maturity there 
comes a story which interhnks itself with 
these earliest days. Millet was enabled, for 
the first time in many years, through an 
order received for a painting, to revisit his 
childhood's home. The grandmother, whose 
pride and hope he had been, and the weary 
mother, had awaited long his coming, but 
death had already overtaken them.* Sad 
memories blended therefore with the joy of 
the return with his children to the old 
home. He wandered everywhere, sketching 
all the beloved, familiar things. One 
evening, as he was returning homeward, 
the Angelus sounded from the church tower 
of the little village of Eculleville. He 
entered. An old priest was kneeling at the 
altar. He approached him and waited until 
he rose from his knees. Then, touching 
him gently on the shoulder, he said, in a 
low voice; " Fran9ois.'' It was the Abbe 
Jean Lebriseux, his former teacher. They 
embraced weeping. Then the old priest 

*The grandmother died in 1851, the mother two years later, with 
Millet's name on her lips. Millet, on receiving the news, took out 
his Bible, and read the story of Tobit and his wife. The idea of 
'''' r Attente'''* came to him at the thought of his mother's longing for 
him, and he made a sketch immediately. The painting was not 
exhibited till 1854. As his share of the inheritance, Millet asked 
for the great oak cupboard and his great-uncle's books, and begged 
that the ivy growing over the house be left untouched. 



asked, " And the Bible, Fran9ois, have you 
forgotten it, and the psalms, do you re-read 
them?'' ^^They are my breviaries," Millet 
answered. '^ It is from them I draw forth 
all that I do/' '^You loved Virgil well in 
the old days." ^^I love him still." 

The home library was composed almost 
wholly of religious works, brought there by 
the grandmother and uncle. Sensier men- 
tions The Confessions of Saint Augustine; 
The Lives of the Saints ; Saint Fran9ois de 
Sales; Saint Jerome, especially his letters; 
the religious philosophers of Port-Royal; 
Bossuet; Fenelon; the Bible in Latin, and 

The peasants of Gruchy were farmers 
rather than fishermen ; thus the lad knew all 
the phases of the peasant-farmer's life from 
personal experience. But he knew the 
ocean also. In one of his reminiscences 
to his biographer, Sensier, he described an 
event that befell on All-Saints'-Day. A 
terrible storm was raging, the villagers were 
gathered in the church. Suddenly a seaman 
appeared at the door, crying out that a 
number of ships were being swept ashore 
and upon the rocks. He called for volun- 
teers; fifty men rose and accompanied him. 



The peasants saw from the cliffs five ships, 
in quick succession, broken upon the rocks 
and all on board drowned. Many other 
ships met a like fate on the following day. 
The boats sent to the rescue were overturned 
and the men could render no assistance. 
One ship drove in between two rocks and 
the crew escaped. Fran9ois, noticing a 
heap upon the shore covered with a sail 
cloth, lifted a corner and saw a mountain of 

So the years passed until 1832. These 
eighteen years form the first period of 
Millet's life. To the influences that sur- 
rounded him during this germinating age, 
as well as to his inherited traits, he owed 
the fundamental elements of his character 
and expression. The lad was intelligent, 
studious, persistent. Had he not been, he 
would not have mastered the Latin Bible 
and Virgil. The artistic element, which 
appeared^as a germ in the grandmother and 
labored awkwardly for expression in the 
father, was already moving actively in him. 
The engravings of the Bible excited a desire 
of imitation. During the siesta, while the 
j rest slept, he made sketches of whatever was 
before him, "the garden, the stables, the 



fields with the sea for horizon, and often the 
animals that passed/' The father only 
simulated sleep and watched with content 
the developing facility of the son; he had 
the longing without the power ; perhaps 
the bon Dieu had given both to Fran9ois. 

He who was later to be the painter of 
peasant life had received from the bon 
Dieu exactly that early training necessary 
to fit him for his work. If one thing were 
lacking therein, if one thing is lacking in 
Millet's representations of peasant life, it is 
sunlight, glad resting, joy, laughter. 

Yet j oy, undimmed by care, can hardly have 
come oftentimes to that Gruchy household ; 
the mouths were too many, the soil was too 
old, too obstinate, the temper of the ruling 
spirits too serious; the house itself, to judge 
from the photograph, is stern and bare. 
The mother, a gentlewoman, bearing nine 
children and doing the rude work of the 
field and stable, never complaining, yet 
always weary; the gentle, simple-hearted 
father; the strong-spirited, devout grand- 
mother; the rising with the sun; the in- 
cessant toiling throughout the slow year; 
and, for reward, existence and the conscious- 
ness of duty done — everything here im- 



pressed upon the plastic mind of him who 
was part of it all the serious meaning of 
life, its worthiness and its rude grandeur too, 
where the burden was borne with 'the man- 
liness and womanliness he saw exhibited in 
those nearest to him. No master could 
ever instruct him as Nature had done ; he 
had the knowledge now; he did not yet 
know, he would not learn for nearly a score 
of years how to give it expression. 

One day, on returning from mass, he 
noticed a peasant, an old man with stooping 
figure, and was astonished at the perspective. 
It came to him as a kind of revelation. 
Hastening home, he made a charcoal sketch. 
His father, on seeing it, was profoundly 
moved and said: *^My poor Fran9ois, I see 
well that you torment yourself with this 
idea. I would gladly have sent you to learn 
this profession of painter, which they say is 
so fine, but I could not. You are the oldest 
of my boys, and I had too much need of 
you; but now the others are growing up 
and I will not hinder you from learning 
what you so much desire to know. We 
will presently go to Cherbourg and ascertain 
if you have in truth the talent to gain your 
living in this occupation." 



The lad finished for the Cherbourg visit 
two sketches, the first, of two shepherds and 
a hill-slope with sheep. One shepherd was 
playing a flute and the other listening. The 
shepherds wore the jackets and wooden 
shoes of his country. The hillock with 
pasturing sheep was an apple orchard be- 
longing to his father. The second drawing 
represented a starry night, with a man 
coming out of a house carrying bread which 
a second received. Sensier says that he has 
looked at this drawing for thirty years and 
it is the work of a man who already knows 
the great drift of art. One would believe 
it a sketch by a seventeenth century artist. 

The painter, Mouchel, whom Franfois 
Millet and his father consulted in Cher- 
bourg, refused to believe these drawings the 
work of the lad. When finally convinced 
by their repeated protestations, he cried out 
to the father : "Eh bien, vous serez damne, 
pour Tavoir garde si longtemps, car il y 
a chez votre enfant TetofFe d'un grand 

The career of Fran9ois Millet was de- 
cided; his father even urged him toward it. 

The lad entered the studio of M. Bon 
Dumoucel, commonly called Mouchel. Sen- 



sier describes this first master as an original 
genius, self-educated, loving art and the 
country. Although the journal of the 
following years is somewhat vague in details, 
the broad lines are sufficiently clear. Millet 
remained only two months with Mouchel 
and learned less from him than from his 
work in the Cherbourg museum, studying 
and copying from the old masters.^ His 
father's death, in 1835, recalled him to 
Gruchy, and he remained there for a time, 
the charge of affairs naturally devolving upon 
him as the oldest son. But his work in 
Cherbourg had excited a great deal of local 
interest, and the notabilities bestirred them- 
selves in order to prevent his going back to 
the life of the farm. When his grandmother 
heard thereof, she said: "My Fran9ois, we 
must accept the will of God; your father, 
my Jean-Louis, said you should be a painter; 
obey him and return to Cherbourg.'' 

On his return he studied with another 
painter, Langlois, a pupil of Gros, but the 
relationship as before is represented as merely 
a nominal one. He worked in the museum 
and "read everything, from the Almanack 

* The museum contained good paintings by Dutch and Flemish 



Boiteux of Strasburg to Paul de Kock, from 
Homer to Beranger, and, with passion, 
Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Byron, Cooper, 
Goethe's Faust and the German ballads/' 
Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand especially- 
impressed him. His biographer adds a 
paragraph which shows how just was 
Millet's native art sense. ^^He would have 
wished to reject all of his (Hugo's) exagger- 
ations, in order to compose for his own use 
a Victor Hugo of two or . three volumes, 
which would have been the Homer of 
France." ^-^ .; > ; ^ ,\ : . 

Langloisiwas ^o impressed with the power 
and originality of his pupil, that he ad- 
dressed, in August, 1836, a most enthusiastic 
letter about him to the mayor and members 
of the municipal council, asking their assist- 
ance, in order to send him to Paris, and 
gave them his personal pledge that posterity 
would do them honor, if they consented 
thereto, ^^for having been the first, on this 
occasion, to assist in endowing the fatherland 
with one great man more." The municipal 

* Theocritus and Burns were later great favorites. He said: 
" The reading of Theocritus proves to me more and more that one 
is never so much Greek as in reproducing very naively impressions, 
it matters little where received, and Burns also proves that to me." 
In 1864 he began the study of Italian, in order to read Dante in the 



council voted him an annuity of four hundred 
francs, to which the general council for the 
Department of la Manche added later six 
hundred francs. This grant, Millet said, did 
not continue long and was far from meeting 
his expenses.* 

Dismissed with the devout, patriarchal 
exhortations of his grandmother. Millet 
reached Paris in January, 1837. He says 
of himself at this period: ''I came to Paris 
with my ideas all formed in art, and I have 
not judged it a propos to modify them. I 
have been more or less fond of such and 
such masters, or such and such form of 
expressing art ; but I have made no changes 
in the fundamentals.'' 

He was proud, sensitive, shy, awkward, 
and had, in consequence, many difficulties 
and unpleasant experiences in establishing 
himself in the capital. At first he made 
no attempt to enter upon a regular course 
of study. While wandering hither and 
thither he entered the Louvre, as it were 
by haphazard, and lived therein a month. 
Michelangelo impressed him most, thereafter 

* 600 francs were voted unanimously by the Municipal Council 
the first year. The following year the annuity was reduced to 400 
francs and was only secured by the mayor's casting-vote. In 1839 
the annuity of Cherbourg was withdrawn. 




the early masters, the great Italians of the 
Renaissance, Murillo in his portraits, Ribera, 
Poussin and Lesueur of the French school. 
**I loved,'' Millet said, ^^ everything that was 
powerful, and I would have given all of 
Boucher for a single nude of Rubens/' Rem- 
brandt blinded him at first; he felt he could 
only approach him gradually. He never 
made but one copy of the masters, and that, 
in a single hour and without premeditation, of 
Giorgione's ^^Concert." In the Luxembourg, 
he saw only theatrical eflFects and cared for 
nothing save the work of Delacroix. 

He said later : ^^ After Michelangelo and 
Poussin, I have held to my first liking for 
the early masters, for those subjects simple 
as infancy, for those unconscious expressions, 
for those beings who say nothing but feel 
themselves overburdened with life, or who 
suffer patiently without cries, without com- 
plainings, who bear the oppression of human 
law and have not even the idea of calling 
anyone to account for it." Michelangelo 
and Poussin remained his life-favorites, and 
there is much in his work that suggests 
both, Poussin's strong, sober coloring and 
absence of sensuous qualities, and Michel- 
angelo's ruggedness and strength of line, 




He was homesick and utterly solitary, for 
he did not dare to speak to anyone from 
fear of being laughed at. Naturally he 
wished to return to the Gruchy home, but 
the Louvre held him. 

He put off for a long time entering a 
studio, partly through native shyness, partly 
because he was not drawn toward the notable 
artists of the day. He chose at last the 
studio of Paul Delaroche, apparently as a 
kind oi pis aller^ but he was too original and 
unadaptable to fit into the life of the place. 
His comrades of the atelier dubbed him 
'^I'homme des boisy His figures surprised 
them, but they looked upon him as bizarre, 
revolutionary and without a future. He 
left the studio soon, but returned for a time 
at Delaroche's personal entreaty. The 
master recognized the strength of the pupil, 
but it apparently rather startled him than 
otherwise, for he had not the knowledge 
or skill requisite to guide it. In 1839, when 
Millet was preparing to compete for thePr/^: de 
Rome^ Delaroche told him he should use his 
influence that year to secure the scholarship 
for another of his pupils ; the following year 
he would support Millet's claims. Millet, 
indignant at what he considered the unfair- 



ness of this procedure, withdrew definitively 
from Delaroche's studio. 

Thenceforth Millet was his own guide. 
He hired with a comrade from the Dela- 
roche studio, Louis-Alexandre Marolle, a 
little attic studio, and worked also in the 
evenings from the living model and the 
antique. Millet was then, as always after- 
ward, excessively shy and awkward. His 
friend, Marolle, served him as medium of 
communication with the rest of the world, 
accompanying him everywhere and acting 
as spokesman. A great amount of light 
work was thrown off at this period, in order 
to secure funds wherewith to exist, for 
example, pastels in imitation of Watteau 
and Boucher. The highest price received 
therefor was twenty francs, while portraits 
sold as low as five francs. But he was 
working diligently meantime, reading the 
best books he could find on the human 
form, and especially everything connected 
with Michelangelo, whom, Sensier says, 
"he never ceased to regard as the highest 
expression of art," and whom Millet himself 
describes as " that one who haunted me all 
my life.'^ 

We have followed Millet's course during 



these earliest years, step by step, watching 
the unfolding of his nature. It is already 
plain that his talent is too original, his will 
too restive under rules imposed by others, to 
follow in the beaten path. If there is suffi- 
cient native strength within him, backed 
by persistency, and fortune is not too rigorous, 
rhomme des bois will subject a field unto 
himself, in untilled ground, and broaden the 
domain of art. The ten years that follow 
his leaving Delaroche's studio are the ones 
in which this question is decided. His 
nature slowly grows toward its maturity, his 
consciousness of the work given him to do 
becomes distinct, and his resolve to do this 
and naught else so tempered by adversity 
that it can hold steadfast. 

He married twice during these years ; 
first, in 1 841, a delicate girl, who only 
lived two and a half years, and again, in 
1845, ^^ brave, strong woman who was 
his courageous helpmeet until the end.* 
The greater part of this period was spent in 
Paris, though we find him at Cherbourg at 
different times. The good people had been 
disturbed at his way of using the bounties 

* Millet always said that the years 1843-44 were the hardest in 
his life, when his first wife, dying, left him a widower and childless. 



accorded, and gave him in 1841, perhaps 
as a test of his powers, the commission to 
paint the portrait of a deceased mayor. 
The work did not meet with their approval, 
they refused to accept it, and, it is said, 
even his old teacher, Langlois, abandoned 
him; but a few years later, in 1844, when 
a Salon picture had attracted considerable 
attention, Cherbourg gave him a better re- 
ception. He was even offered a professor- 
ship of drawing in the college, but wisely 
refused the position. 

The struggle for existence during these 
years was at times a severe one. The little 
family was often on the verge of actual 
want, or even passed it. Thus Millet, 
receiving a hundred francs, brought him 
by a friend in 1848, said: *^ Thanks; they 
come in season. We have not eaten for two 
days; but the important thing is that the 
children have not suffered- — they have had 
thus far their nourishment.'' He painted 
anything and everything asked of him ; e. g.^ 
in Cherbourg in 1841, signs for a veterinary 
surgeon, a tight-rope dancer, a sail maker. 
The thirty francs he received for a sign 
painted for a midwife in Paris in 1848 
supported him and his for fifteen days. 



Diaz, who had formed a high opinion of 
his talents, was indefatigable in his efforts 
to secure him a patronage, as was Rousseau 
at a later period; and Sensier, who made 
his acquaintance in 1 847, was thenceforward 
his devoted friend; but the comradeship 
among the few younger men who were 
loyal to him, while affording him a moral 
support, never kept want long or far distant. 

Sensier mentions the prices he received 
for his pictures in 1848; six beautiful 
drawings for a pair of shoes, four portraits 
of Diaz, Barye, Victor Dupre and Vechte, 
life size to the bust, for twenty francs ; any 
number of charming sketches, at prices 
ranging from five francs to one. 

His art studies consisted chiefly in satu- 
rating himself with the spirit of the old 
masters, whom he had chosen as his guides. ^ 
One who has known and loved Millet cannot 
walk to-day through the Louvre without 
recalling how he haunted it. Poussin's 
cool, strong landscape in the Sa/on Carre, 
the devout work of the child-masters of Italy 
in the long room beyond, and Michel- 
angelo's drawings have a more intimate 
interest for us because of what they taught 




But Millet had not yet reached entire 
self-consciousness. Perhaps it would be more 
true to say that he did not yet dare to 
be altogether himself, on account of the 
home which little ones were fast entering. 
He must earn money and therefore paint 
what could be sold. He had acquired re- 
markable facility. Sensier recalls walks in 
the fields (Montmartre or Saint-Ouen) at 
this time, and finding in his atelier ^ on the 
morrow, all the impressions of the outing as 
finished paintings. He was known among 
artists as the " Master of the Nude,'' that 
being the class of subjects wherein he had 
done most and his best work. Sensier says: 
** Until 1847, Millet painted external life, 
human nudity, in its most unconscious state, 
the purely physical life of beings that let 
existence flow past as the stream of oblivion. 
He did not paint the soul and its torments, 
as he did later, but living forms, and he 
depicted them with the alluring charm of 
material beauty, in their movements as well 
as in their repose.'' 

To judge from his biographer's descrip- 
tion. Millet's facility with his brush and the 
demands of life combined for a time to carry 
him to the limits of propriety. An ex- 





hibition at Havre in 1 845 and a "Temptation 
of Saint Jerome" of the same period repre- 
sent this extreme phase. Reports thereof 
awoke apprehension in the Gruchy home. 
The good grandmother acted shrewdly here. 
She did not upbraid her beloved foster-child, 
but sent him a patriarchal exhortation. 
"Follow the example of that man of your 
own profession who used to say: *I paint 
for eternity.' For no cause whatever, permit 
yourself to do evil works or to lose sight of 
the presence of God. With Saint Jerome, 
think incessantly that you hear the trumpet 
that shall summon us to judgment.''* 

Millet always cherished a reverential love 
for his grandmother, and never became 
modern Parisian enough to have been in- 
sensible to this appeal. "Millet had a 
sensuous organization," Sensier says, "in love 
with the flesh, but his soul was upright and 
almost without a spot. In the midst of our 
decadence, he has guarded the purity of a 
primitive heart." 

"The atmosphere of Paris was heavy to 
him, the small talk, . . . the ambitions, the 
morals, the fashions, threw him into a world 

* Millet's father charged him, on his deathbed, "never to execute 
a work of impiety, and that all his desire should be to praise God by 
thought, word and deed." 

[ 49 ] 


he did not understand." The revolution of 
1848 came. ^i^Millet, with all other citizens, 
had to shoulder a musket and defend the 
assembly. At the capture of the barricades 
of his quarter, Rochechouart, he saw the 
chief of the insurgents fall. That intensified 
his aversion to Paris. He had already sent 
two pictures to the Salon in 1848, one of 
which, ''Le Vanneur'' (a man winnowing 
corn), attracted attention. It was his first 
important attempt to paint a scene from farm 
life. Ledru-Rollin, the minister, purchased 
it for five hundred francs, and gave him 
a commission to paint another canvas for 
eighteen hundred francs. Millet chose for 
his subject "Hagar and Ishmael.'' It was a 
nude, and the work was almost done when 
he overheard a conversation between two 
young men, as he was passing one evening 
before the art store of Deforge. They were 
looking at his '' Baigneuses'' (Bathers). 
^' Do you know the author of this picture?" 
one asked. The other replied: ^^Yes, it's a 
fellow called Millet, who only paints nude 

On reaching home. Millet told his wife 
the story, and added: ''If you wish, I will 
never again do any more of this painting; 



life will be still harder, you will suffer from 
it, but I shall be free and shall accomplish 
that which has long occupied my mind/' 
She replied simply: ^^I am ready; do ac- 
cording to your will." "Hagar and IshmaeP' 
was left unfinished, and a second scene from 
peasant life, ^' The Haymakers Resting,'* 
took its place. 

Millet had just received the pay therefor, 
when political troubles again broke out, the 
manifestation of the thirteenth of June, 
1849; ^^^ cholera was also at its height. 
He decided therefore to abandon Paris for 
a time, and went, with his friend Jacque, to 

Will Low describes charmingly the en- 
trance of the peasant painter into that realm 
of labor he was to immortalize, and where 
he was to find his true self. Jacque, it 
seems, had heard of the quaint, tiny village 
on the borders of the great forest, but had 
forgotten all save the last syllable of its 
name, "zon." So the two families took 
the diligence from Paris through Chailly 
to Fontainebleau. Thence the brother 
artists explored the forest on foot, finding 
Barbizon at last, and entering it through 
the cow-gate. The following day. Millet 




drove with his wife and children to where 
the footpath left the highway for the 
village. Dismounting, the Norman peasant 
took his two little girls on his broad 
shoulders and trudged ahead, while the 
wife followed with an infant of a few 
months in her arms, a servant with a basket 
of provisions accompanying her. Rain fell, 
the mother's skirts had to be laised to shield 
the little one, and a peasant woman, noticing 
the bedraggled procession, took the Millets 
for strolling actors. 

Their first home was at the village's 
western end, away from the forest. A 
peasant, proprietor of a cottage of two 
rooms, ceded one of them, and the other, 
which he himself occupied, served, with 
its fireplace, as kitchen and dining-room 
for both families. Millet's atelier was 
across the street. But Millet soon dis- 
covered, at the other end of the village, 
an unoccupied peasant house, one story 
and a loft in height, and this became 
his permanent home.^ A garden, forty- 
eight feet wide, ran its entire length. A 
door in the high stone wall at the rear of 

*The building was 6 1 feet long, i6 feet wide and 17 feet from 
ground to ridge-pole. 


M I L 1 


garden admitted to the plaiu 
)use contained three rooms on the ground 
or. The one nearest the street had 
been used as a barn and was without floor, 
save the bare earth, to judge from William 
Hunt's account. It was rarely heated, and 
then only by burning: straw. The entrance 
to it was from tht and a window, 

three This 

ra as ho 

Five years la ovn 

a barn acrd^^*^^ ^^ ^^l^...^ 

putting in floor and ratter-ceiling and cutting 
a large window an'd^^door, opening toward 
the old home, and rented it to Millet, 
he old atelier became a part of the living- 
qi were enlarged as time went 

children entered.^ 
have a home 
s," as 
as nt 
Miiiet ting t( 

twenty '5t 
The hamlet ha 

Piednagel says !vi 


Millet 's Studio— Interior 


the garden admitted to the plain. The 
house contained three rooms on the ground 
floor. The one nearest the street had 
been used as a barn and was without floor, 
save the bare earth, to judge from William 
Hunt's account. It was rarely heated, and 
then only by burning straw. The entrance 
to it was from the street end, and a window, 
three feet square, admitted light. This 
room served Millet as atelier^ and the two 
rear rooms, floored, plastered, and with 
rafter ceilings, as home. 

Five years later, his proprietor transformed 
a barn across the garden into an atelier^ by 
putting in floor and rafter-ceiling and cutting 
a large window and a door, opening toward 
the old home, and rented it to Millet. 
The old atelier became a part of the living- 
quarters, which were enlarged as time went 
on, a home which many children entered.* 
The father's hope, however, to have a home 
of his own, ^^a nest for his little toads," as 
he expressed it, was never realized. 

Millet came to Barbizon expecting to 
linger only for a brief period, but remained 
there twenty-seven years, or until his death.* 
The hamlet has been transformed and 

* Piednagel says Millet had nine children. 



Millet's home has not escaped ; the house 
and garden have disappeared. The atelier 
externally is unchanged, but within has 
been dismantled.* Fortunately, word- 
sketches remain, drawn by his friends 
Sensier, Piednagel, Claretie, Yriarte, William 
Hunt and others, and the son of the artist, 
Carl Bbdmar, has preserved in photographs 
the garden, the house as seen from the 
court, from the street, and the street itself, 
as they were in Millet's time. 

The French villages, upon the borders of 
the Forest of Fontainebleau, consist of low 
houses, built of stone and plaster, and white- 
washed. The whitewash takes on, with 
the years, the color of a lichen, and the red 
tiles of the roofs become a deep, dull bronze, 
fringed here and there with rusty moss. 
The houses, or the groups of structures 
which constitute the homesteads, have an 
exterior and relatively unattractive side 
turned toward the outer world, and an 
interior of court, or courts and garden, shut 
away by high walls over which no intrusive 
eye can look. Sometimes the main house 

^ Millet's atelier was very simply furnished with a few casts, the 
spoils from the woods and fields, his favorite books, and, in the 
corner, a heap of blouses, aprons, kerchiefs, etc., sun and weather 
btained and bleached. Blue was his favorite color, 


.m end or a broad side towi: 
V * and its wall forms part of the parape* 
ich protects the intimacy of the home life. 
Viillet's^/^//>r turned its broad side to the 
village street, his little house its end. 

We have the photographs before us as 
we write, and also the memory of the 
treet, seen V ' Between the 


d trees rise in a b 

vvitnm, escape ^M^V^'^i-tJ^tii' t^H^*- 
any where along the streets of th 
bleau hamlets and you will find numberless 
endants to this picture. We have pulled 

the bell jangles within, 

) the home world. 

house "a 



osed to liiiii 
modest d\: 
'1 filled 
iowero, vegetables, and 


R B I 

ed. The u. 



ar, h phs 

hou en from the 

jm the street, and the street itself, 
as they were in Millet's time. 

The Street of Barbizon Showing cMtllet ^^ i 

Studio and Home d white 



ive an 


ttractive side 


world, and 



walls over 



turns an end or a broad side toward the 
street and its wall forms part of the parapet 
which protects the intimacy of the home life. 
Millet's atelier turned its broad side to the 
village street, his little house its end. 

We have the photographs before us as 
we write, and also the memory of the 
street, seen but yesterday. Between the 
atelier and the house, over the wall which 
seems to have twice the height of the 
peasant woman in the foreground, thick- 
foliaged trees rise in a bouquet. Wayward 
sprays of vines, that are growing luxuriantly 
within, escape over the wall. Wander 
anywhere along the streets of the Fontaine- 
bleau hamlets and you will find numberless 
pendants to this picture. We have pulled 
the cord and, as the bell jangles within, 
someone admits us to the home world. 
Piednagel describes the house as ^^a 
maisonette literally covered with a thick 
growth of clematis, ivy and jasmine of 
Virginia. The little door, formerly painted 
white and without any ornament, is never 
closed to him who knocks. The facade of 
this modest dwelling looks out upon a large 
garden, all filled with an attractive disorder. 
Flowers, vegetables, and fruits grow there 


without any thought of symmetry and seem 
to live and multiply in perfect intelligence. 
A great white rose vine, inquisitive and 
artful, seems to be trying to scale the 
windows, and a hedge of sweetbrier and 
elders, twined about with convolvulus, an- 
nounces the beginning of the garden/' 

Nature was the only member of the 
Millet household that had abundant stores 
and could make therefore lavish expenditure. 
But the French peasant knows how to make 
this guest feel at home, giving her space 
and freedom, and Millet had not merely 
the peasant's love for foliage and flowers, 
but the artist's sympathy with everything 
that lives in Nature. Sensier says that he 
loved Nature so that the pruning of the ivy 
or the clematis caused him an actual pain. 
Once, after returning from a walk in the 
forest, resplendent, imperial in its frost 
raiment. Millet attempted to describe the 
scene. ^*The tiny branchlets of all kinds 
were perhaps the most beautiful of all," he 
said; ^^it seems to me that Nature wishes 
to make them take their revenge and to 
show that they are not inferior in anything, 
those poor, humiliated things." 

Jules Claretie admits us to the interior 


Millet's Garden— With Madame Millet 

1 5 

itive and 

JL LiliiL liiiu uuuiiuaiii, o tores 

.c therefore lavish expenditure. 

:h peasant knows how to rr^^ - 

ui. ^1 at home, giving her sp^ v 

: ^ T:r ^ j^^^j not mere]' 

^^ i^W^ — ^-iWmflowei 



of the house. ^^On the right side of the 
street, in going toward the forest, one can 
see around a table, lighted by a lamp, a 
family patriarchally grouped. The mother 
and the father are there, the children are 
working, the girls sewing. All are silent. 
Sometimes the father, who is reading to 
himself, finishes his reading aloud. They 
listen without raising their heads. The 
father is a large and robust man, young 
still, with gentle expression, calm and 
severe at the same time, with black beard, 
something of the peasant and of the Quaker. 
He is silent and usually dreaming.'' 

Others paint equally beautiful home 
scenes. It is evening; Marian and George 
are standing near him, the youngest child 
is on his knees and Millet is humming a 
rustic ballad; or it is afternoon and he is 
strolling in the forest, a child among his 
children, weaving fantastic stories. The 
last time Sensier saw him free from suffering 
and happy, six months before his death, all 
went to the forest. Millet, his wife, Sensier, 
the children and the grandchildren. He 
was spoiled by all the members of his family, 
all noises were hushed near his studio, even 
the youngest remembering not to disturb 



Papa at his work; but, when discourage- 
ment came, he threw the studio door wide 
open and forgot the disconsolate artist in 
the happy father. 

If you leave the atelier behind and turn 
toward the forest, within five minutes you 
will be in an open grove with stately trees. 
To the right, as far as a startled pheasant 
will fly, on the face of a cleft boulder, 
forming one of an enormous, primeval heap, 
a bronze tablet has been inserted, containing 
heads of Millet and Rousseau. Fifteen 
minutes farther, either to the right or left, 
will lead to commanding platforms. The 
wood falls away to the west, and the plain, 
dotted with villages, is spread out as on a 

A forest fire has recently swept the spaces 
just beyond, and many of the famous oaks 
that Millet knew and loved are black and 
grotesque shapes now. Within easy walking 
distance, however, not more than an hour 
from Barbizon, ai'e the most beautiful 
portions of the forest. The Bouquet du Rot 
extends for a considerable distance, a narrow 
wood road, lined on both sides with stately 
trees that form a continuous, sloping roof 
through which the sunlight sifts. The 


forest stretches away, clear of underbrush, 
or with enough left in spaces to afford a 
marvelous contrast between the fresh green 
of the bushes, the dark, grey trunks banded 
with light, and the forest roof, a fretwork 
of green leaves and blue sky, with the sun- 
light burning through it all. None but 
the noblest trees may have place in this 
park of the kings. The walk through it 
in the late afternoon defies description. 
The consciousness of beauty becomes actual 
pain, through bewilderment and intensity. 

Millet wrote : ^' If you could see how 
beautiful the forest is ! I run there some- 
times, at the close of the day, after my day's 
work is done, and I return therefrom always 
crushed. I do not know what those beggars 
of trees say to each other, but they say 
something which we do not understand, 
because we do not speak their language. 
Foil a tout!'' 

Overtaken by the close of day in the 
gorges of Apremont, he exclaimed: '*It is 
a prehistoric deluge, a chaos. It must 
have been terrible, when it ground under 
its masses generations of men, when the 
grand waters had taken possession of the 
earth and only the Spirit of God survived 



so many disasters. The Bible paints it in 
three words : ^Et spiritus Dei superabat super 
aquas' (And the Spirit of God prevailed 
over the waters.) Poussin alone, perhaps, 
has understood that end of the world.'' 

The reverse of this picture of a happy 
home life and constant, intimate communion 
with Nature is the long, cruel struggle with 
poverty, headache and disappointment.* 
His letters show that the morrow scarce 
ever was secure. He was often in fear of 
being turned out of doors. About the time 
that his ^^Angelus" was finished he wrote to 
Sensier : " We have only wood for two or 
three days more ... I am suffering and 
sad.'' William Hunt says: *^I found him 
(Millet) working in a cellar, three feet 
under ground, his pictures becoming mil- 
dewed, as there was no floor. He was 
desperately poor, but painting tremendous 

* Sensier's portrayal of Millet's struggle with poverty has been 
criticised, even by Madame Millet, as overdrawn. But Millet's 
letters seem to bear out at least the assertion that, in his mind, the 
situation was tense almost to the last, causing great solicitude, if not 
actual material want. All the responsibility therefor is not however 
to be imputed to lack of due appreciation of his work as artist. The 
needs of a very large family, with his generous shielding them 
against the suspicion even of distress, and his own lack of financial 
wisdom, his incautiousness when fortune smiled, were also con- 
tributory causes. His eldest son said they were the happiest of 
children and only knew later on that their father's life had been 
worn out by his hard struggle. 



things/' The most cruel part of it all, in 
the retrospect, is that the struggle was ended, 
his existence assured and hostile criticism 
stilled only about 1870, that is a few years 
before the end, when already the strong 
man was broken by the burden bearing. 

In December, 1874, when he was con- 
sciously entering the shadow land, he said: 
*^ I die too soon ; I disappear at the moment 
when I begin to see clear in nature and 
art/' In January, 1875, a stag was pursued 
into a garden near by and tortured to death. 
Millet heard all. "It is a prognostic," he 
said; "that poor animal, which has just 
died near me, announces without doubt that 
I too am going to die." January 20th, 
1875, the long struggle ended. At his 
death there was, as his biographer expresses 
it, an explosion of sympathy and justice. 
Whatever might be the variance of opinion 
with regard to his art interpretation, all 
recognized that a brave man had passed. 
Single canvases, that could scarce find a 
buyer at any price when first painted, have 
brought since his death prices that would 
have assured him not merely a competence, 
but wealth. Thus, "The Gleaners," which 
Millet had sold for two thousand francs, 


ought three hundred thousand francs; 

d ^^The Angelus," which he had great 

fficulty in disposing of for twenty-five 

mdred francs, brought, at the Secretan 

le in 1889, ^^^ hundred and fifty-three 

ousand francs, and later, in 1890, eight 

mdred thousand francs. The Gavet 

llectipn of his pastels and drawings was 

Id in the year of his death for four hundred 

d thirty-one thousand francs.^ 

Yet this story is a common one, and the 

Lsh of his heart, despite all, had been 

Ifilled. For he wrote in 1867: "I con- 

lue to desire only this, to live from my 

Dvk and to bring up my children fittingly; 

en to express the most possible of my 

ipressions ; also, and at the same time, 

have the sympathies of those I love well. 

et all this be granted me and I shall regard 

yself as having the good portion." 

Millet's nature was saddened by the 

ruggle. The cloud that hung forever 

L his sky dulled his vision to the im- 

^ High prices were realized at sales, even before his death. In 
73, " The Angelas," which was one of his favorites, sold for 50,000 
incs ; *' Woman with the Lamp," 38,500 ; " Flock of Geese," 25,000 ; 
id others for corresponding prices ; but Millet was already sick and 
id hemorrhages. The May following his death, his unfinished 
ctures, drawings, etc., sold for 321,000 francs and this gave 
adame Millet a comfortable income. Proofs of etchings he had 
^d for half a franc brought from 100 to 150 francs. 


J%i^ / 1^, t-^^^c i^-f 


portant part that light and gladness have in 
Nature, aye to the sunny side of that 
peasant life whereof he had always been 
a part and whose interpreter he felt himself 
called to be. Yet, despite money vexations, 
despite the demon headache, which gained 
a tighter clutch upon him every year and 
pitilessly stole away strength and time from 
creative work, despite his repeated failures 
to secure recognition, he walked manfully 
forward and, in the darkest years, wrought 
much of his noblest work. 

About the time of his finishing ^^The 
"Gleaners" (in 1857) ^^ said: "Let them 
not believe that they will force me to lessen 
the types of the soil ; I would prefer to say 
nothing rather than to express myself feebly. 
Le4 them give me signs to paint; yards of 
canvas to cover by day's labor, as a painter 
of buildings ; a mason's work, if need be ; 
but let them leave me in peace to conceive, 
according to my own fashion, and accom- 
plish my task." When his "Death and 
the Wood-chopper" had been refused at 
the Salon, in 1859, he said: "They believe 
that they will make me bend, that they will 
impose upon me the art of the Salons. Ah, 
No! Peasant I was born, peasant I shall 



die. I wish to say that which I feel. I 
have things to describe as I have seen them, 
y and I will remain upon my soil without 

retreatingaj^/^^/'j-length, and, if need be . . . 
I will fight too . . . for honor.'' ^ From the 
misunderstanding and non-appreciation of 
man he turned constantly to Nature for 
cheer: ^^Let us go and see the sunset; that 
will comfort me again." When well nigh 
disheartened, in 1864, he wrote: "Let us 
pray Him who gives us intelligence not to 
abandon us too much, for we have need of 
all our strength to accomplish this task. 
Gird we up our loins, then, and march ! " 

Sensier visited Millet and Jacque fre- 
quently during the first months after they 
came to Barbizon, and found them so over- 
whelmed by the beauty of the forest that 
they could not work. The charm of forest 
and plain and the exhilarating consciousness 
of being at last free to live his own life 
combined for a time to intoxicate Millet. 
"When I get to the ground," he had said 
before leaving Paris, "I shall be free." 

With the return of calm, he began his 
life work, sketching everything that spoke 
to him and working very rapidly in the 

* " The Angelas " was already painted. 


^ I 




The (Angelus 



3feeL I 

en them, 




le sunst 

^-ain/' When well nigh 

heartened, in 1864, he wrote: "Let us 

or ay Him who gives us intelligence not to 

abandon us too much, for we have need of 

(5 , V freno-th to lish this task. 

St that 

I forest 

iratii sciousness 

lis own life 

mtoxicate Millet. 

he ground ad said 

work. P^^^^ 

un ^ 

The Gleaners 

i'x^nEiix) ^KT 

r 1 


preparation of these first notes. Later he 
elaborated with care a series of small studies, 
embracing the entire life of the peasant, 
both man and woman, and almost from 
cradle to grave. His paintings, the final 
stage in this work of creation, grew slowly. 
He did not finish more than three a year. 
He was a severe and patient self-critic. If 
he felt the expression incomplete, he let the 
canvas hang untouched for months, even 
years. He did not paint from the model. 
He sought the typical rather than the indi- 
vidual, and the model would obscure the 
type that was taking form within. 

We are accustomed to think of the 
Barbizon period as completely severed from 
the earlier period, in that the painting of 
the nude, wherein Millet had shown 
hitherto his chief mastery, was abandoned. 
But this is an error. He continued, for ten 
years still, 1848-58, producing nude studies, 
side by side with his peasant interpretations. 

When it was known that Millet was to 
abandon Paris for Barbizon, Diaz, the lover 
of color and graceful form, protested. "What ! 
In ilie name of the great pontiff, do you 
pretend to tell me that you have decided to 
live with brutes and sleep on weeds and 



thistles, to bury yourself among peasants, 
when, by remaining in Paris and continuing 
your immortal flesh painting, you are certain 
to be clothed in silks and satins?'' Diaz 
expressed a truth with regard to Millet's 
nudes. Their strong and simple lines and 
their noble, sensuous forms declare him a 
master in this field. Millet's sketches af- 
forded him the largest opportunity for the 
free exercise of that quality wherein he 
excels, the power to express form, character, 
motion with few, sure lines. In his large 
canvases expression does not always equal 
conception. Yet considering art ^^not for 
art's sake" alone, but as one of many fields 
of man's creative power that may contribute 
to the uplift of all life. Millet's peasant 
canvases remain his supreme achievement. 

We learn, from Yriarte, that he removed 
a portion of his wall in order to have, 
almost on the level of the ground, a view 
out upon the country, and there, seated upon 
a heap of stones, passed hours in contempla- 
tion. Sensier tells us that his occupations 
at Barbizon were twofold, — in the morning 
he dug his garden, and after breakfast, that 
is in the afternoon, he retired to a low- 
roofed, cold, dark hall which he called his 



studio. If he remained there too long, he 
would have frightful headaches which lasted 
perhaps for weeks. To ward them off, he 
wandered about the fields and forests in 
sabotSy an old straw hat and an old sailor's 
blouse, and there his full vigor returned. 

His work has been styled ^^The Poem of 
the Earth.'' Life was to Millet profoundly- 
serious, permeated with the divine. Every 
act of life should be related to the eternal 
order of things; every work, well done, is 
so related. The church had taught him to 
leave the afar to God. The riddle of the 
near, he read as discipline. Through work 
shalt thou earn thy bread, and, more, become 
a part of the regenerative force that shall 
redeem the earth. He had found his 
place. His part, as God's servant, was to 
take page after page from the book of the 
fields about him and read it to his fellow- 

The peasant's work is both the first and 
the most fundamental of human labors. 
Millet was close to the soil by birth and 
instinct. He felt rightly that, with the 
"primer of peasant life, from which all com- 
plexities of higher social organization are 
jabsent, he could best contribute his part to 




tlie interpretation of life — at least describe 
soil and life-pictures, in their beauty and 
strength, which the eye saw but the mind 
apprehended not. By force of sincerity, he 
related what he himself even did not fully 
grasp. Submissive himself to earth's un- 
equal allotment of good and evil, of the 
rewards of labor, he pressed home with 
such crude verity the fact of this inequality 
that men began to think more seriously 
thereof, and the readjustment of society, the 
realization of human brotherhood, is being 
advanced to-day by his work, without his 
having sought or even dreamed of such a 

The Barbizon peasants were not un- 
fortunate above other French peasants ; nay, 
more favored, for they were comparatively 
well-to-do, with field and forest as store- 
houses of food and heat. Millet recognized 
this.* He was not portraying the Barbizon 
peasant, nor even the peasant, as peasant, but 
j^j as symbol of humanity. The faces of hisi 
peasants are not only not individualized,, 
but are usually without expression, often i 
wholly in shadow, or only suggested. Thati 

*He said repeatedly that he did not consider the Barbizon] 
peasants unfortunate. 

[ 68 ] 

In the Fields — ^arbizon 

(From N-a.ture) 


eauty and 

the mind 

erity, he 



the i 

:gan to thi 

stment A 
1 brotherhood, is beiii^ 

ich a 


is to us purposeful. Man even must in a 
measure be obscured, the God in his face 
veiled, if he who looks upon the canvas is 
to realize that humanity after all is only 
a part, though an important part, of a 
greater whole, only an instrument in the 
hands of Omnipotence. 

When it was objected to his portrayals of 
peasant life that pretty maids and fine- 
looking men could be found in the village 
as well as in the city, and that he was 
calumniating the country by deliberately 
choosing the brutal and formless, he an- 
swered: "Beauty does not dwell in the 
face ; it radiates forth from the whole figure . 
and appears in the suitableness of the action 
to the subject. Your pretty peasants would 
be ill suited for picking up wood, for 
gleaning in the fields of August, for draw- 
ing water from a well. When I paint a 
mother, I shall strive to represent her 
beauty solely in the look she gives her 
child. Beauty is expression.'' ^^-- 

Elsewhere he interprets the same thought 
more clearly: "I would wish that the 
beings I represent should have the air of 
being consecrated to their position and that 
it should be impossible to imagine that the 





idea could occur to them of being other 
thing than that which they are/' ^^One 
can say that all is beautiful which arrives 
in its time and at its place, and contrariwise. 
. . . The beautiful is the suitable/' ^^One 
can start from all points in order to arrive at 
the sublime, and everything is proper to 
express it if one has a sufficiently high aim. 
Then that which you love with the most 
self-forgetting and passion becomes your 
beautiful . . . The entire arsenal of nature has 
been at the disposal of the strong men, and 
their genius has made them take there, not 
the things which men have agreed to call 
the most beautiful, but those which suited 
the place best. Has not everything, at 
every hour and in a certain place, its role? 
Who would dare to decide that a potato is 
inferior to a pomegranate?" 

^ " There are those who tell me that I 
deny the charms of the country. I find there 
far more than charms — infinite splendor. 
I see there, as they do, the little flowers 
of which the Christ said: ^I assure you 
that Solomon even in all his glory was 
never clothed like one of these.' I see 

* This letter was written in reply to the criticisms of his " Man 
with the Hoe." 



very well the aureoles of the dandelions, 
and the sun, which displays down there, far 
away beyond the villages, his glory in the 
clouds. I do not see the less on that 
account the laboring horses all steaming in 
the plain, then in a rocky place a back- 
broken man, whose 'hans' (pantings] have 
been heard since morning, who is trying 
to straighten himself upright for a moment 
in order to breathe. The drama is en- 
veloped with splendors. That expression, 
*The cry of the earth,' is not my invention; 
it was discovered long ago. My critics 
are men of education and taste, I imagine; 
but I cannot put myself in their place, and, 
as I have never seen in my life any other 
thing than the fields, I try to say as well as 
I can that which I saw and experienced 
when I worked there. Those who wish 
to do better have certainly the good por- 

^^See those things which are moving 
down there in a shadow. They are creep- 
ing or walking, but they exist; they are 
the genii of the plain. They are nothing 
but poor folk, however. It is a woman all 
bent, without doubt, who is bringing back 
her load of grass; it is another, who is 




dragging herself along exhausted under a 
bundle of fagots. From a distance they 
are superb. They square their shoulders 
under the burden, the twilight devours 
their forms; it is beautiful, it is grand as a 

Paul Victor said of Millet's figures: 
*VHis painting of * The Reapers' is an idyl of 
Homer translated into ^^/^/j*. His rustics . . . 
are of a superb, brutal, primitive ugliness, 
resembling the figures of captives sculptured 
on Egyptian tombs. . . . You feel a respect in 
the presence of those rude peasants, com- 
panions of the great cattle, warriors armed 
with scythes, nourishers of men." 

^ William Hunt said : " Millet's pictures 
have infinity behind them, t His subjects 
were real people, who had work to do. If 
he painted a haystack it suggested life, 
animal as well as vegetable, and the life of 
man. His fields were fields in which men 
and animals worked, where both laid down 
their lives, where the bones of the animals 
were ground up to nourish the soil and the 
endless turning of the wheel of existence 
went on." 

* Millet said once that Hunt was the best and most intimate 
friend he had ever had. 


m^M'm--.. ' '^ 'y> ^ :.< 

Sheep at Edge of Wood 

iY S 

uier a 
: they 


iStiCd . . . 

ipert), eai, primitive ugli 

)ling the figures of captives sculptured 

. You feel a respect i? 
'e pqa^ants, com- 


;i men 

otii laid dov^^n 


up to nou: 
of t' 



Many looked upon Millet's peasants as 
hiding a political protest, breathing the 
spirit of social revolution. That heavy 
boor, scarce above the ox, his comrade in 
toil, painted on the cold canvas without any 
softening of lines, and thrust before the 
eyes of the delicately nurtured and well-clad, 
seemed the cry of the country against the 
city, of the toiler against the man of ease.* 
But nothing was farther from Millet's idea. 
His spirit knew not such a thing as protest 
against the ordering of God and Nature. 
Turning backward over the centuries, he 
heard the curse spoken. He felt its shadow 
brooding over all the earth, darkening the 
tilled field, bending the back of the laborer. 
It was a mystery, but to a Millet human 
toil and pain are but the discipline of divine 
justice, love and wisdom. His canvases 
present life as he saw it, reveal profound 
sympathy with toiling humanity, but breathe 
neither lament nor protestation. 

He said repeatedly: "My programme is 
work, for every man is vowed to bodily 
fatigue: *Thou shalt live in the sweat of 
thy brow ' was written centuries ago, an im- 

* When his " Sower " appeared at the Salon of 1850, one critic went 
so far as to see in it a Communist flinging handfuls of shot against 
the sky. 



mutable destiny. . . . What every one ought 
to do is to seek progress in his own pro- 
fession, exert himself always to do better, 
to become strong and noble in his occupa- 
tion and to surpass his neighbor by talent 
and conscientiousness in work. That is for 
me the only path. . . ." In 1867 he wrote: 
"I repel with all my strength the demo- 
cratic side, as it is understood in the language 
of the clubs, that they have wished to 
attribute to me. My sole desire has been 
to direct thought to the man consecrated to 
earning his livelihood in the sweat of his 
brow. ... I have never had the idea of mak- 
ing any plea whatsoever, Je suis paysan pay- 
sany No fact in Millet's life is clearer 
than that he was always remote in thought 
and purpose from radicalism.* 

Millet was as sensitive as any of his 
contemporaries to the splendors of the 
earth. ^^Ah! I would wish,'' he ex- 
claimed, ^^I could make those who look 
at what I do feel the terrors and the 
splendors of the night. One ought to be 
able to make the songs, the silences, the 
murmurs of the air heard. One must per- 

■^He said often that he failed to grasp Socialist doctrines and 
that all revolutionary principles were distasteful to his ideas. He 
did not even read political newspapers. 



ceive infinity. Is not one terrified when 
one thinks of those constellations of light 
which have risen and set for centuries upon 
centuries with a regularity nothing disturbs ? 
They give light to everything, the joys and 
the sorrows of men, and when this world 
of ours shall sink, that sun, so beneficent, 
will be only a pitiless witness of the uni- 
versal desolation/' He says of winter: 
"Oh, sadness of the fields and woods, one 
would lose too much not to see you!'' 
And elsewhere: "Oh, spaces which made 
me dream so when I was a child, will it 
never be permitted me to make you even 
suspected?" ^ 

But his supreme interest was centred in 
man. " It is the human side which touches 
me most in art and, if I could do that 
which I wish, or at least attempt it, I would 
never create anything which was not the 
result of an impression received through 
the appearance of Nature, either in land- 
scapes or figures. It is never the joyous 
side which presents itself to me. I do not 
know where it is, I have never seen it. 


* He wished every canvas to suggest infinity. " Every landscape, 
however small, should contain a suggestion of the possibility of its 
being indefinitely extended on either side. Every glimpse of the 
horizon should be felt to be a segment of the great circle that 
bounds our vision." 



The gladdest thing I know is the calm, the 
silence that one enjoys so deliciously, either 
in the forest or in the tilled fields, whether 
tillable or not. You will admit to me that 
it is always very dreamful there and the 
dream sad, though delicious. You are J 
seated under the trees experiencing all the 
well-being, all the tranquility one can 
enjoy. You see coming forth from a little 
path a wretched form laden with fagots. 
The unexpected and always startling way 
in which that figure appears to you, 
carries you back at once to the sad con- | 
dition of humanity, weariness. That gives 
always an expression analogous to that of 
La Fontaine in his Fable of the Wood 
Cutter : 


* Quel plaisir a-t-il eu depuis qu'il est au monde ? 
En est-il un plus pauvre en la machine ronde ? ' 

In the places that are tilled, though some- 
times in certain regions scarce tillable, you 
see figures digging with spade or mattock. 
You see one of them from time to time 
straightening up his loins, as we say, and 
wiping his brow with the back of his hand. 
^Thou shalt eat thy bread in the sweat of 
thy brow.' Is that there the gay, merry 
labor in which certain people would like 



to make us believe? It is there, notwith- 
standing, that I find the true humanity, the 
grand poetry." 

The peasant patiently bearing his burden 
from the cradle to the grave, in the hot 
fields of summer and the cold, desolate 
woods of winter, was to Millet the earth 
poem, and grander far than royal sunset or 
voice of wind in the forest. There was the 
battle of life out there in the fields. There 
was the world's true hero, sowing, reaping, 
gleaning. He was redeeming the earth 
from its curse a*nd making atonement, by a 
life of self-renunciation, for the vast, primal 
sin; waiting too patiently the revealing of 
the world of peace and joy beyond. The 
scintillation of the stars whispered to him 
thereof as he watched by the sheepfold at 
night. When as evening fell the Angelus 
sounded forth from the bells of the village 
church tower, he bowed his head and 
drank in for a moment a holy, quiet peace, 
presage of that beyond. 

Such was the poem that formed itself in 
Millet's mind; every action of the peasant 
life, indoors and outdoors, takes on a re- 
ligious aspect in his canvases. It is hu- 
manity performing the old necessary, patri- 



archal services, man working with Nature, 
both under the shadow, under the burden, 
uncomplaining, waiting for the morning. 

There is without doubt a deep truth in 
all this. That peasant and son of peasants 
in coarse blouse and sabots who roamed 
these woods so many years was one of the 
prophets. The forests of the Bas Breau 
and the gorges of Apremont are holy places 
to-day, because Jean-Fran9ois Millet walked 
there. And yet it is only a part of the 
whole truth. Neither Nature nor human 
life rest all under the shadow. And he 
who, as Corot, finds and interprets the sun- 
sprent beauty of the woods, who sees 
bright-colored forms dancing in the glades, 
whose heart is sensitive, responsive to the 
joy, the carols that breathe everywhere in 
this world, is a prophet too. 

The life of the peasants has another side. 
Sunlight and song are not all reserved for 
that morrow of whose advent the stars 
murmur at night and the Angelus at sun- 
set. Walk through these village streets. 
The houses stand sociably close to each 
other, not separated, as in a hamlet of the 
western world. It is evening ; the fields of 
labor lie still and waiting under the stars. 



Feeding the Nestlings 

(La. Becquee) 


'uth in 

. iioly plat 
illet w alk< 
And t io only a part of tl 

uth. i\ either Nature nor Hu^ 

all ^ ' / ' * nd J 

cA Sketch— maut 


^^mi^— i\o\^^^ ^ 




There are groups upon the streets and the 
neighborly talk has a cheery ring. Enter 
through the gate ajar and sit down with 
the peasant family in the open court, if it 
is midsummer, around their table. It is 
rudely, but generously spread. These men 
and women were at work with the sunrise 
and the day has but just ended for them. 
They are bent, perhaps, the oldest ones 
especially, but there is a gladness, a song in 
their greeting, in their voices, that tells not 
only of a kindly, social spirit, but also that 
Nature has not been altogether a harsh 
stepmother to them. 

No, the life of humanity is not all 
under the shadow; it is earnestness, it is 
unceasing effort, it is tireless aspiration, if 
a true life; but song and sunshine are as 
integral a part of it as sorrow and cloud. 
The trees rise grey and tall about me, 
and the wind is soughing in their upper 
branches, but the sunlight is filling all 
the forest world with sparkle and shimmer, 
the birds are chattering overhead; a roe- 
buck took my place yesterday beneath 
the beech tree, when I had deserted it for 
the noon hour. 

Each poet-painter sings his measure, each 



prophet declares that part of the whole 
truth revealed to him. But the whole 
envelops the parts and reaches outward 
into the infinities. And we who listen to 
these partial truths begin at last to hear, as 
sound of distant bells, the disclosings of the 
whole truth. 


Corfli ^^^ 



C O R O T 


Take the train at the Saint-Lazare station 
for Ville-d'Avray. The road, after tunnel- 
ling Paris and traversing the nearer suburbs, 
crosses the Seine and makes a broad sweep, 
climbing and following the high ground 
that encircles as a ring the basin through 
which the river winds. The backward 
and downward look is inspiring. The 
great city lies just beneath, with the Eiffel 
Tower far overtopping everything, the Arc 
de Triomphe and the turrets of the Troca- 
dero Palace as conspicuous objects in the 
foreground. The sun has set aflame a 
gilded ball far back among the swarming 
myriads of structures, the overflow from 
Lutecia, the tiny island city of Roman 
times. To the left rise the heights of 
Montmartre, surmounted with the white, un- 
finished church. A fortressed hill is near, " a 
watch-dog of Paris,'' as Hugo calls it. Then 
the Bois de Boulogne comes between, and 
the Seine winds at the foot of the ridge, with 
low trees, trimly uniformed, sentinelling its 
banks. Groups of tall, gaunt Lombardy 



poplars stand here and there in the file, like 
survivors of a sturdier militia. 

There are villas everywhere. The French- 
man, who loves the country and yet would 
not be out of sight and hearing, out of near 
reach, of the bright, gay capital, can pitch 
his stone tent upon the terraces of this ridge 
and see the lights of the city and its 
suburbs, swarming multitudinous down into 
the valley, the flight of a song away, while 
taking his evening meal en famille in his 
own pretty, vine-roofed arbor. 

We pass Saint-Cloud, rush in and out of 
tunnels and are at Sevres-Ville-d'Avray. 
Sevres is below on the river, but Paris and 
the Seine are hidden. Ville-d'Avray is 
farther back on the ridge. We saunter 
hillward, following the Chemin Corot, the 
channel through which the daily tide of 
city travel ebbs and flows. There are villas 
on both sides. To the left green vines 
wanton along high stone walls, dropping 
here and there a fresh spray, and behind 
rise trees luxuriantly foliaged. 

We have reached the Avenue de Ver- 
sailles, the main thoroughfare of Ville- 
d'Avray, and turn to the left. There are 
gates invitingly open on the valley side,, 



: rench- 

iiil ii 


iis ridge 


' multituamous auwn luU 
, the tiight of a song away, wK' 
t;Ki evening meal en familt 

own pretty, vine-roofed arbor. 

V" )t-C' H in and out oi 

JiUi, tli 

^rccii viii^ 

waiis, dropp" 
1 1..: 

ic de V w 
^ Vill 

^>^ mere a 

, valley ?'^ 



C O R O T 

glimpses of flower gardens and parks, of a 
downward sweep of lawn and an upward 
climb beyond, that allure almost to in- 
trusion. Then we are in a bourgeois part of 
the town ; the houses are in blocks, but 
between them, occasionally, a narrow space, 
an open door for our eyes, that wander 
eagerly down into that valley of mystery. 

At last there is a break in the line, a 
broad open space, from which steps lead 
downward. We descend the steps and are 
at once on the shore of a small, beautiful 
lake. Water is gurgling from a marble 
fountain just at the foot of the steps. The 
fountain, surrounded by flower beds and 
overarched by trees, faces the tiny lake. It 
consists of a large, thick slab with triangular 
cornice, a base, and, in front, an urn to 
receive the water. A bird is singing on a 
branch in the cornice. A heavy laurel 
wreath, caught at the upper corners of the 
slab, falls in a festoon, and in lieu of a knot 
below there is a grotesque head, out of 
whose mouth water is flowing. Below the 
cornice is the inscription: ^^Veri diligentia'' 
(Search after truth). A large medallion head 
has been cut in the slab, and beneath it we 
read: "Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille ; born 



/at Paris July 26th, 1796; died at Paris 

I February 23d, 1875/' 

Opposite the fountain, across the path that 
descends from the main street, a substantial 
country house hides behind densely branched 
trees and a high stone wall. It was Corot's 
home, and nothing, we are told, has been 
changed since his time. The house is 
massive, of stone and plaster, a spacious, 
old-fashioned home. Opposite the house 
are the stables and outbuildings. Vines 
run riot over them. House and stables look 
at each other across an ample court. Be- 
yond the enclosure, we catch glimpses of a 
flower, fruit, and kitchen garden. It is a 
picture of home comfort, of ease without 
excess, taste without tinsel, with the quaint 
flavor of olden times, the brightg ladness of 
flowers, the wild freedom of green vines and 
rest beneath wide-branching trees. 

But the door of the court is closed upon 
us, so we follow the path past the house end 
and study the garden over the high stone 
wall and through the lattice work of the 
foliage, left happily incomplete by Nature. 
A bosky grove — a towered arbor — a broad 
brook gliding between low-swung branches 
— a marble statue hiding in a shady nook — 


C O R O T 

great trees rising everywhere — open spaces 
of sunlight. 

As we turn and face the lake — we are at 
its foot now — we are amazed at the revela- 
tion. There are Corot's trees ! Willows, 
more silvery leafed than any we have ever 
seen before, stand in sparse groups upon the 
bank, with tall, dark-green beeches between, 
and here and there a silver poplar ; and on 
the opposite shore tall, gaunt trees, Lombardy 
poplars, with scarce any foliage, only a rag- 
ged ruffle of leaves twined about their stems. 

It is a day of moods; while we linger, 
the sky becomes overcast and gray and the 
silver of the willow leaves is fused into a 
mist. The sun comes out for a moment 
and sets, in the distance, the facets of the 
lake sparkling. These are all familiar 
things, so familiar that we return and stand 
beneath Corot's windows. The ragged- 
foliaged poplars cannot be seen, but the 
silver willows are looking across, and the 
whole background is filled with the trees of 
the park climbing a gently sloping hill. 

We saunter about the lake, make the 
acquaintance of the individual trees, look 
again at the genial face in the medallion, 
and then sit down before the whole, while 



the senses link in one all the separate im- 
pressions. Then we return by the grand 
hill-balcony of the railroad. 

We have been looking forth upon scenes 
as familiar to Corot as the walls of his ate- 
lier. ^ If the human element be eliminated, 
there is no pathos here, only loveliness 
everywhere, reaching its highest expression 
on the shores of the lake and within that 
jealously guarded court. Yet humanity is 
not only here in Corot's world but holds 
a larger place therein by far than in the vil- 
lages upon the border of Millet's forest. The 
great city that camps in the plain has 
multitudes working harder, suffering more 
than ever Barbizon peasant. They bear 
life's burden with equal courage and patience. 
The fields of labor, that skirt the forest of 
Fontainebleau, have scarce other memories 
than those of man's tenacious, bloodless 
wrestlings with Nature. The teeming plain 
that surrounds that Seine islet has seen 
other steel flashing than that of hoe and 
ploughshare. A bloodier sweat than that 
of toil has dripped into its furrows. How 
can humanity be eliminated frorri a scene 
where it has been intensely, suiFeringly active 
ever since the dawn of history? 


C O R O T 

The city laborer is lost in his environ 
ment; the eye perceives from that hill 
balcony Nature and man's work, but not 
man. The graceful lines and grouping of 
park, river and hills, the grandeur and 
variety of architectural forms, the ber.uty, 
symmetry, and power of the city as a whole 
conceal from us the individual man. 

The peasant stands alone in his fields, a v 
statue of labor, hewn in the living flesh and \ 
freed in space, against the brown of the j 
soil, the green of the meadows and woods, j 
the blue of the sky. A still infinity sur-y{ 
rounds him. f 

Millet's nature was in full sympathy withM 
his environment, Corot's with his; but li 
neither understood the other. Millet said: |l 
^^Corot's pictures are beautiful, but they do 
not reveal anything new." Corot said of 
Millet: ^*His painting is for me a new 
world, I do not feel at home there. I 
am too much attracted to the old. I see 
therein great knowledge, air, and depth, 
but it frightens me; I love better my little 

Beside every one of Millet's rugged, 
Dantesque strophes of toil should hang one 
of Corot's summer idyls, for each interprets 



only a part of ^Nature and life, and without 
the other is incomplete. '^ 

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was born in 
Paris the 26th of July, 1796. His parents 
were milliners, then greatly in vogue, and 
their store was on the corner of the Rue du 
Bac and the Quai Voltaire, facing the Pont 
Royal. Here the young Corot was born. 
Thurwanger, his godson, says of his relation 
to his parents: ^'He had great respect for 
his father, but a real veneration for his 
mother, whom he considered the most 
beautiful of women. Unless away on a 
journey, he never failed, until his mother's 
death, to accompany her to church every 
Sunday. He was proud to walk with her, 
arm in arm, and always called her ^la belle 
femme.""' His father's family came from 
the vineyards of Burgundy. Corot discovered 
late in life some distant kinsfolk still living 
there, and, about i860, went to visit them. 
He used to say to his friends later: *^The 
country is full of good workers, who have 
the same name as myself; they call out to 
each other in the fields: ^He Corot!' You 
don't hear anything else. I always thought 
they were asking for me, and it seemed to 
me that I was there as in my own family.'* 


C O R O T 

Corot was proud of his peasant stock and 
had much of the peasant too about him, 
both physically and morally. Dumesnil 
describes him. "Of good height, strong, 
of a robust constitution, with a healthful, 
frank, jovial expression; liveliness and ten- 
derness in his glance; a tone of bonhomie^ 
blended with much penetration ; great 
mobility of face and a ruddy complexion, 
which gave him the appearance of a peasant 
from the vineyards of Burgundy/' His 
father sent him about 1806, for economical 
reasons, to the Lycee of Rouen, where he re- 
mained seven years, receiving there his entire 
education. While in Rouen, he was under 
the oversight of a correspondent of his 
father, a man of rather sombre tastes, who 
oved solitude and twilight walks. Young 
Corot used, therefore, to wander with him, 
isually toward sunset, in unfrequented paths, 
mder the great trees of the meadows or 
ilong the river, and received from these 
solitary walks a profound impression. 

His father intended to make of him a 
)usiness man. After his return from Rouen, 
le was therefore placed in a draper's store, 
md remained in similar employ until about 
1822. The artistic tendencies of his nature 


B A R B I Z > N D / Y S 

were already manife "^'"j-V vorking in 
the Rue de Richelie le mon^nt he was 
at Uberty he would vimse f under the 

counter and sketch, liis emplo; er was very 
indulgent, but told the father tiat the son 
would never be goo(^ ^or anythin,y as a busi- 
ness man and he ought to let nim follow 
his natural tastes. 

Corot attributed to this business training 
his lifelong habits of order and punctuality. 
It was his custom always to rise early and, 
I from the moment of his awakening, fix his 
thoughts upon the picture he was painting. 
He sang, Dumesnil says, while dressing, 
then ran to his easel, reaching his atelier 
promptly, summer and winter, at three 
minutes before eight. 

Corot's father purchased in 1817 a 
country house in the Ville-d'Avray, the 
one we have described.* The family 
spent their summers there. Dumesnil says: 
*^This dwelling was situated near a pond 
. . . and often, while all were sleeping 
he (Corot) remained in his room a part of 
the night, leaning upon the open window 
absorbed in the contemplation of the sky 

* Corot and his sister occupied it together after their father' 

[ 9M 

Ville d^Avray 

B A R B I Z Y S 

orking 1 

at he wjt 
under th 
er was ver 
mt the sc 
lid never be i i bus- 

nd he ougnt -:i mm follow^ 

,il tastes. I 

v.orot attributed to this business training 
(lis lifelong habits of order and punctualitv 
It was his custom always to rise early an* 
from the moment of his awakening, fix ^ hi:^ 
thoughts ult^wk-^ ^W^ure he was paintin-^ 
11^ ' -hile dressings 

his atelie 
r thre( 

iii ioi7 
ry i^ tiie V liie-d'Avray, 

ibed.* The fami 
iiers there. Dumesnil sayi 
was situated near a poni 
d otten, while all were sleepirij 
hf emained in his room a part 

th ming upo' ' s window 



^t. . oU, 


C O R O T 

the water, and the trees. The solitude 
was complete; no noise came to trouble 
the dreamer on that solitary slope; he 
passed thus long hours, his eyes, and 
doubtless his thought, transported into that 
atmosphere, charged with humidity, im- 
pregnated with a kind of visible dampness 
composed of light and transparent vapors, 
which rose above the water. The souvenirs 
of his childhood and the impressions he had 
received at Rouen were thus renewed and 
implanted themselves more deeply in his , 
brain. He attributed to them a great \ 
influence over his manner of seeing and | 
feeling Nature, and over all his career as i\ 
artist. From the moment that he took i 
the brush, he found again, without diffi- I | 
culty, and as if unconsciously, the tones'^ 
proper to express that which had remained 
in his imagination — that gray mist, light and 
ambient, wherewith the air is saturated, 
which half, veils the horizons ... in a li 
majority of his paintings.'' M j 

These are the years, in the growth of the 
human plant, when the senses of an artisti- 
cally endowed nature open to the beautiful, 
as the petals of the convolvulus to the sun- 
light, and the whole course of a life may be 



determined by the slope of the hills, the 
sweep of the meadows, the aspects of en- 
vironing nature. Corot's father had there- 
fore chosen without due forethought in 
admitting Camille to this school of the 
Ville-d'Avray, where a sympathetic teacher 
was ever quickening his artistic senses and, in 
equa,l measure, deepening his aversion to 
commercial life. '"' ^ — ^ 

He made, while a draper's clerk, the 
acquaintance of Michallon, the first recipient 
of the Grand Prix de Rome^ a young man 
of his own age, and already highly esteemed. 
Michallon doubtless encouraged him in his 
ambitions. The yearning to express what 
he saw and felt became at last too strong 
for him to continue passively longer in the 
career his father had chosen for him. So 
one day he went to his father and begged 
him for permission to give up business, 
follow his natural inclination, and take the 
brush, ** for that was what he most desired 
in the world.'' 

Corot was then about twenty-six, yet his 
relation to his parents remained through life 
that of a child. Charles Blanc says that 
they always treated him as a little boy, and 
until after fifty he was as submissive to them 



as a child. The father, a shrewd business 
man, accustomed to command, was not 
pleased at this unwise choice; yet he did 
not, as he might have done, coldly thwart 
Camille's ambition. Probably the advice of 
Camille's employer and his own experience 
convinced him that his son would make a 
failure in business, unless he renounced now, 
for good and all, his art whims. He there- 
fore resolved to give him a choice; to hold 
out before him a stimulating prospect, should 
he continue in business; but allow him if 
he wished, on meagre conditions, to follow 
his inclinations. He said: ^^The dowries 
of your sisters have been ready for them, and 
I expected very soon to provide you also 
with a good establishment; for you will 
speedily be of an age to be the head of a 
business house; but, since you have refused 
to continue in your trade, in order to 
become a painter, I forewarn you that, 
while I live, you will have no capital at 
your disposal. I will give you an allowance 
of fifteen hundred livres (francs). Never 
count upon anything else, and see if you 
can get along with that.''* Camille, deeply 

*That sum represented the interest of the dowry of one of his 
sisters, which had reverted to the family, she having died without 



moved, embraced his father saying, "I 
thank you; it is all that I need, and you 
make me very happy."^ Forthwith delay- 
ing only long enough to provide himself 
with the tools of his new trade, he went 
down upon the shore of the Seine', close to 
his father's house and, " looking toward the 
Cite, full of joy, began to paint/'j- 

This was Corot's first study, and he used 
to show it to all who visited his atelier. 
He said to Dumesnil, Fran9ais, Troyon, and 
Busson in, 1858: "While I was doing that, 
thirty-five years ago, the young girls who 
worked at my mother's were curious to see 
Monsieur Camille at his new employment, 
and ran away from the store to come and 
look at him. One of them, whom we will 
call Mademoiselle Rose, came oftener than 
her companions; she is still living and 
unmarried, and visits me from time to 
time. She was here only last week. 
Oh, my friends, what a change, and what 
reflections it calls forth ! My painting has 
not budged, it is as young as ever, it marks 
the hour and time of day when I made 

*We have followed here Dumesnirs account. Charles Blanc 
says his father offered to put one hundred thousand francs in his 
hands, if he would continue in business. Thurwanger says the 
annuity was only 1,200 francs. 

t The Seine island, site of the original city. 


C O R O T 

it; but Mademoiselle Rose and I, where 
are we?" 

1/ The contrast between Millet's abandon- 
ment of the farm and Corot's release from 
the counter is a significant one. Millet's 
father and grandmother saw, in the lad's 
talent, a sign of the divine will, and sent him 
forth, as one called to a higher, a holy 
work. Corot's father had no confidence in 
his son's artistic ability. The life of a 
painter, at least so far as Camille was 
concerned, seemed to him a half-idling, 
a toying with life, and his attitude thence- 
forth toward his son was one of tolerance of 
a caprice, rather than encouragement of a 
talent.* Millet married, and his career was 
from beginning to end a struggle, a con- 
secrated one, from the moment of his clear 
recognition of his special field. Corot 
escaped from the counter to the land of his 
dreams. He never married; whether the 
desire thereof came to him or not, we are 
not told — Mademoiselle Rose awakens a 
suspicion — but, if it did, he turned his face 

*Even so late as 1846, when Corot had been decorated with the 
Legion of Honor, his father said to Fran9ais, who was perhaps Corot^s 
favorite pupil: '*Tell me, you who are a connoisseur in painting, 
whether Camille has really merit ? '* Fran9ais assured him that his 
son was " stronger than all the rest," but found it difficult to con- 
vince him. 



\l resolutely away. He gave his life entirely 
[j to art; his father's allowances satisfied his 
modest needs, and so he lived on, in- 
terpreting Nature as she appeared to him, 
diffusing about him a constant sunshine, 
with a song always in his heart and upon 
his lips, until, dreaming of landscapes and 
skies all rose, he fell asleep. 

When some one remarked that painting 
was a folly, he replied : '^ It may be so, but 
I defy anybody to find on my face the 
j I traces of sorrow, of ambition or remorse, 
\ I which mar the faces of so many unhappy 
people. This is why we should not only 
/pardon that folly but seek it. (^We should 
love art, which gives calm, moral content- 
ment, and even health to one who can 
bring his life into harmony with it.^ 

He said once to a friend: *^I pr^ every 
day the /?on Dieu to make me a child, that 
I may see her (Nature) as she is, and to 
make her, as a child, without reserve.'* 
Such prayers the bon Dieu always answers,, 
for the desire is proof that the heart is open 
to receive the simple messages of the outer 
world, though not indeed its depths and| 
heights; for these are only disclosed to him 
who has struggled and suffered. One may 


C O no T 

indeed suffer and yet remain a child. A 
mere financial independence, such as Corot 
enjoyed, is not a shield against the arrows 
of fate. But, so far_,^S-^-we can observe, ^ 
Corot's life moved forward, from the time 
of his release from business, as evenly and 
happily as it is reasonably possible for human 
life to do. His vigorous health and glad 
nature, more receptive of sunlight than of 
shadow, counted for much therein. The 
failure to secure recognition had not the 
meaning for him that it had for Millet and 
Rousseau, harassed by creditors and de- 
pendent upon the fruits of their labors. It 
was therefore without that drop of supreme 
bitterness. Late in life, when the battle 
was over, he said, in reference to a sugges- 
tion made by Barye that he should offer 
himself as candidate to the Institute: "No,'' 
pointing to his easel, "all my happiness is 
there. I have followed my path without 
flinching, without changing, and for a long 
time without success ; it has come late ; it is 
a compensation for youth flown away, and I 
am the happiest man in the world.'' 

His friend Michallon became for a brief 
"^ime his teacher. His first drawing from 
jnature was made at Arcueil under Michallon's 




eye.^ Dumesnil sums up the precepts of 
his first master: "To come face to face 
with Nature, to strive to render her with 
exactness, to paint what one sees and to 
translate the impressions received,'' and this 
advice, Dumesnil adds, was about that which 
Corot gave in turn to his pupils. Though 
Corot did not remain long under Michal- 
lon's direction, the precepts of his first master 
had undoubtedly an abiding influence with 
him. They responded to the leadings of 
his own nature. Michallon died in 1822. 
His death must have occurred therefore not 
long after Corot's release from business. 

Rene Menard says of Michallon: "At a 
time when only conventional landscape was 
known, with the inevitable temple in the 
background, and the foreground with large 
leaves to give it distance, Michallon was 
regarded as a seeker afte r realism , because 
his subjects were chosepL ^r om N ature, 
instead of being composed in the imagma- 
tiori7'"~^ "^ ^"""^ 

Victor Bertin, the acknowledged master 
of landscape, was Corot's second teacher. 
He had been also the teacher of Michallon. 

* Corot made one of his first studies in the Forest of FontainC'l 
bleau, October 22d, 1822. 

[ 100 ] 


Dumesnil says that '^he was a pure classi- 
cist, putting everything in order, and whose 
paintings recall, if one may so express it, 
the col dness of t he accessories of tragedy/' 
Bertin~was not the master to appreciate and 
foster the artistic qualities of Corot's na- 
ture, but he was a conscientious worker 
and a good draughtsman, and his instruction 
was helpful in the direction of precision. 

Jean Rousseau describes the ruling art 
ideals at the time when Corot began his 
apprenticeship. There was nothing but the 
noble style; ^^no rivers, but torrents; no 
houses, but Greek temples; no peasants, 
but shepherds and nymphs ; and no familiar 
trees even, no simple elms and commonplace 
birches, but cedars and palms." 

After two winters spent in Bertin's studio, 
Corot went to Rome in 1825. A number 
of young French painters were there at the 
time. Pierre Guerin was director of the 
Academy. Corot's social qualities made at 
first a much greater impression than his 
ability as an artist. At the evening gather- 
ings, at the Gaffe della Lepre or Gaffe Greco, 
he used to sing with great gusto a ballad 
then very popular, and which remained 
one of his favorites, 




"Je sais attacher les rubans, 
Je sais comment poussent les roses. 
Des oiseaux, je sais tous les chants, 
Mais je sens palpiter mon coeur." 

As an artist Corot was timid, and the in- 
difference of his comrades went at times 
even to the point of ridicule. His first 
attempts at independent drawing discouraged 
him, and he felt that the time passed under 
Victor Bertin's instruction had been wasted. 
But he persevered and learned to sketch 
rapidly the groups he met on the street, 
seizing the character and the details too, if 
those who were unconsciously posing lingered 
long enough. 

Corot, as Millet, was a more apt pupil in 
the large studio where Nature teaches than 
in the routine of the atelier. He loved to 
wander alone about Rome.^ 
j Corot is indeed the child of the Ville- 
/ d' Avray and of Rome,\the pupil of Nature 
I and of Classic ArQ He unites harmoniously 
the academic traditions taught by Michallon, 
Bertin and the rest, with his own impressions 
received immediately from Nature. 

* There was no other city in Europe, even as late as 1875, save 
Athens perhaps, where one could learn as much of art and history 
by simply wandering to and fro. Rome was still ancient Rome, 
now it is an emerging modern European capital, and the crum- 
bling gray of the old contrasts harshly with the pretentiousness of 
the new. 

[ 102 ] 

Souvenir of Castelgandolfo 


'\ R n O N D A Y b 

id the in- 
nraucs at times 

His fir 

pts a ' , aibLOurag 

Hi ^ ar ' -*i: t^^c iime passed undc- 

Liertiii s instruction had been waste^ 
he persevered and learned to sketcu 
rapidly the groups he met on the street, 
seizing the character and the details too, if 

those who ^S^Hfi§S^^^)^«S 
•ig en 



ed to 

; ui the Ville- 
ivoii.e,uiie pupil of Natu* 
^"' *'? unites harmoniou; 
cmic traui uoiio taught by Michallc 
nd tl % with his own imprer ' 

nmeaiately from Nature, 

C O R O T 

For those lithe, shapely figures that lead 
the dance in his summer landscapes are the 
wood and river goddesses of ancient art, 
most charmingly bereft of all heroic or 
superhuman qualities, and become but the 
impersonations of the hour and the mood of 
Nature in color, in form, in posture, in 

A comrade, Aligny, found him sitting one 
day on the Palatine hill and sketching the 
Coliseum. Aligny was regarded as an 
authority in landscape. He was struck by 
the precision of the sketch and, examining 
it closely, discovered therein qualities of the 
highest order, mastery and ndiveti com- 
bined, and congratulated Corot. Corot at 
first took this praise for pleasantry, but 
Aligny insisted and told their comrades 
that evening that Corot could well become 
the master of them all. That gave Corot 
a standing among his fellows and he was 
thenceforth looked upon as an artist with a 
future. Corot always attributed to Aligny 
the success of his life. That spontaneous 
recognition of his talent and hearty en- 
couragement, coming from a man whose 
judgment all respected, opened to him 
again the golden gate. He made sketches 



from nature at Aligny's advice, striving to 
render everything he saw^ with truth and 
J precision, le aving no place to the imagina- 

Charles Blanc says that Aligny exercised 
for fifteen years and more a pow^erful in- 
fluence over Corot. During this period 
Corot.** sought style by the drawling, by grand 
lines resolutely marked, an intentional so- 
briety in details. . . . That however which 
was rude, solemn and somewhat emphatic in 
the drawings of Aligny and in his virile, 
austere paintings . . . appeared in Corot less 
abrupt, more penetrated with the warmth 
of life. . . . Corot had something more 
than Alignv and Victor Bertin, and that 
was love."^ Everything depicted itself in 
harmony in his awakened soul.'' 

Corot would never part with that study 
of the Coliseum, and toward Aligny he 
cherished always a reverential feeling. A 
friend whom Corot took to Aligny's studio, 
after Corot himself had become famous, was 
surprised to see him timid and as it were 
like a little boy in the presence of him whom 
he regarded as his true master. 

Dumesnil describes the closing scene of 
that friendship. It was eight in the morning 

[ 104 ] 

C O R O T 

of a winter's day, the snow was falling and 
melting as soon as it touched the earth, the 
sky wan and sad. Aligny's funeral was 
being celebrated at Montparnasse. There 
were few present. Corot, then seventy-eight 
years old, stood shivering beside the grave. 
Madame Aligny came to him and begged 
him to go away, but he refused. Somewhat 
later that same day, as he was leaving his 
atelier y he related his experiences to Dumesnil. 
Just then a ray pierced the mist. *^Ah,'' 
exclaimed Corot, *^ it's better weather now 
than it was this morning in the cemetery, 
but it was for me a duty, a sacred debt." 

Edward Bertin, another of the French 
artists then at Rome, Aligny and Corot 
used often to wander about the Campagna 
together seeking motifs^ and Corot said: 
^' it was Edward who always had the instinct 
to choose the right spot." He felt he owed 
much to his counsels. Corot's first manner 
of painting, ^Mry rather than vaporous, has 
its source in the studies that he made at 
this time." 

On Corot's return to France in 1827,"^ 
he sent two pictures to the Salon, and from 
that time forward never missed an exposition. 

*He revisited Italy twice, in 1833 and 1843. 


Yet it was long before he secured recogni- 
tion His pictures were always badly hung, 
unnoticed by the critics, and returned unsold 
to him.* But he had, in compensation, 
from an early period a small band of ad- 
mirers and champions, among others Diaz, 
and many warm friends, and was spared the 
bread struggle. 

Charles Blanc says that ^^his work at 
first was idyllic or historic landscape, and 
i did not differ enough from the work of his 
masters and the painters of the day to attract 
attention. Furthermore, the true sentiment 
of rustic nature was not yet awakened in the 
j French school. When, a few years later, 
\ Cabat, Jules Dupre and Rousseau appeared, 
I " the veil of mist and poetry which the ami- 
; able Corot had thrown over Nature was rent 
\ by that brilliant young group. The paintings 
i of Corot seemed pale, gray, and, in their 
^ delicacy, they could attract only the deli- 
cate.'' These however were touched, and 
recognized therein the soul of a poet. We 
have seen but few of his earlier canvases. 
^^The Coliseum '' and " The Forum " in the 

* He used to return sometimes from an exposition with tears in 
his eyes and look at the studies on the walls of his atelier saying: 
"At least they will not be able to take that away from me, with all 
their intrigues." 











■ r 



1^ , da.tlilL^ ii Uill LlilC; llii»L yy 

that tuinance and that silver misi wj 
Coiot found his natural expression, and ti 
^ 'close no other quality whi^^ '^^^ — ^• 

em from the throng. 

Corot's *^ Paysage " in the Louvi^ .^eems 
■ e natural and - '^ -^- ^-^pression of the 

^* and spirit oi ^ ^ '-^^ ^ -ts in 

^ silver ha7- ^^ "^^"^ 

ve often 

nutest p 

ck lake. ±1 ■: v 

1 pierce thrc *^ 
away, and tliwi 
ent it, and On m^ a-''^^) ^^^ 

ounlight are falling and bursting. 

The wooded shores are half shrouded in 
^ ystery, half revealed. There is a life 

ring at this hour. Were the eye not so 

11, it would pe-' • 
thm?r ^'^ 

e tret: , 

e. Th 
iixcy pe^ ^ 
and dryau 

*'^^ ^he htauLy yi .. 


.c . 

vt-\ r^ y v-t- i . , i- -r -. ♦* »"V'N ■• ••■X'^ f~\-%yi r-^ r^- 


t : f% 

Un Paysage 

C O R O T 

Louvre, dating from this first period, lack - 
that romance and that silver mist wherein | 
Corot found his natural expression, and they > 
disclose no other quality which separates , 
them from the throng. ^ / 

Corot's " Paysage '' in the Louvre seems 
the natural and complete expression of the 
life and spirit of the artist. A lake rests in 
the silver haze of a summer morning. We 
have often seen that gauze, woven of 
minutest pearls, suspended over an Adiron- 
dack lake. It is so tenuous that the eye 
can pierce through its meshes to the shore 
far away, and there, in the distance, the sun 
has rent it, and on the glassy surface drops 
of sunlight are falling and bursting. 

The wooded shores are half shrouded in 
mystery, half revealed. There is a life 
stirring at this hour. Were the eye not so 
dull, it would perceive graceful forms moving 
rhythmically along the shore and among 
the trees, or disporting themselves in the 
lake. The ancients were not at fault when 
they peopled lake and forest with nymphs 
and dryads. For these were elusive things, 
and the beauty of the woods and lakes, of 
hours and moods such as this, has the same 
elusive quality. But we turn back from 



Nature to the ^^Paysage," or better, to its 
companion canvas, ^^Le Matin." There 
, they are ; Corot has seen them and painted 
^ them to the life — graceful, shapely, lithe, I 
,^J not mortal nor sensuous, as in the nude can- ' 

(vases of the modern school ; not divine, nor 
heroic ; of the woodland these ; and how 
wonderfully the colors of their drapery blend 
with the tones of the landscape. 

There is poetry everywhere, but it can- 
not speak the language of man until it has 
found an interpreter. And those beings, 
not of human, nor yet of heroic, divine 
kinship that Corot perceived and painted, 
are just and true impersonations of sentiments 
that exist in Nature, and without them his 
landscapes would lack their final perfection. 

Corot recognized that he was not painting 
grand things.*-^ ^^ When I find myself in the 
fields," he said once to Silvestre, ^^I fly into 
a rage with my pictures." When standing 
before a painting of Delacroix, he exclaimed : 
**He is an eagle; I am only a skylark; li 
send forth little songs in my gray clouds." 
His remark about Millet's worK, as com- 
pared with his own, voices the same 

*He said of his painting: ** I know well that I do not go far in it; 
I cannot; but I am persuaded that I am on the right path." 


t~::* »-.•': ~."'"i'-»r' 'k:-^:. , -r.* 

Le Matin— *Dance of the Nymphs 

B A i ' ' ■ ^ N DAYS 

, >*:* ri L> 

or better, to 
ivao, .-^v vlatin/' Th 
i u ,c seen -^^ 'n and pain 

^^pely, lit 
nude c 
^^vine, 1 

,,..^ lui) y 1 1 )-^ .jolo rs of their dr apery h^ 

4 l-» «Ei ♦•A-»»-* .-if- /"vl- ^T-» #» I . : •n /i V < ^■^' i'^*^ 

XllVxlC JO I'W^^Liy V, V vi V vv ixv-1 O, DUt It C 

not speak the language of man until it 

not of Imraan, nor yet of heroic Hr 

kinshir "^^^ * r* n#. * ^^.t-, -.I'vr^ri u^d ..^... 


.n t- ir^ It 

JL ^ V^ V 

If in 
; fly ' 
...... stanr 

i>v..cxv; ...v, he exclain 
1 am only a skylark 

i iii.Liu> >ags m n^^^ ''^'^^^ ^l^^" 

i M. .. idrk about M^^-^* 
pared with hip '^^-^ 
thov ^' 

* I 






1 . 


C O R O T 

Dumesnil finds in his religious paintings, 
the best of which are in Saint-Nicolas-du 
Chardonnet at Paris, a capacity for the 
grand art as represented by Titian, Poussin, 
Rembrandt and their fellows. But Corot 
would have deprecated such a comparison, 
and his own more modest judgment as to his 
distinctive place in art is the one time will 

We can spend a day with Corot by reading 
his letter to Monsieur Graham. 

**Look you, it is charming, the day of 
a landscapist. He rises early, at three in 
the morning, before the sun; he goes and 
seats himself at the foot of a tree. He 
watches and waits. There is not much to 
be seen at first. Nature resembles a whitish 
canvas upon which the profiles of certain 
masses are vaguely sketched ; all is fragrant, 
all thrills under the freshening breath of the 

^^Bing! the sun is becoming clear — the 
sun has not yet rent the gauze behind 
which hide the meadow, the valley, the 
hills of the horizon — The vapors of night 
still creep like silvery tufts over the cold, 
green grass, Bing ! Bing ! a first ray of 
the sun ! a second ray of the sun ! The 

[ 109 ] 


tiny flowerets seem to awake joyous; each 
one has its drop of trembHng dew; the 
leaves, sensitive to the cold, move to and 
fro in the morning air — Under the foliage 
the birds sing unseen — It seems as if it 
were the flowers saying their prayers. The 
loves, on wings of butterflies, descend upon 
the meadow and make the tall grasses sway 
to and fro. One sees nothing — everything 
is there — the landscape is all there behind 
the transparent gauze of the mist, which 
rises, rises, rises, inhaled by the sun, and 
discloses in rising the river scaled with 
silver, the meadows, the trees, the cottages, 
the vanishing distance. One distinguishes 
at last that which one divined at first. 

*^Bam! the sun has risen. Bam! the 
peasant passes at the end of the field with 
his cart drawn by two oxen. Ding! ding! 
it's the bell of the ram that leads the flock. 
Bam! bam! all bursts — all glitters — all is 
in full light, blond and caressing as yet. 
The distances, simple in contour and 
harmonious in tone, lose themselves in the 
infinity of the sky across an air misty and 
touched with azure. The flowers uplift 
their heads; the birds flit hither, thither. 
A countryman, mounted upon a white horse. 

C O R O T 

disappears in the hollow path; the little 
rounded willows seem to be spreading 
themselves like peacocks upon the bank of 
the river. It is adorable, and I paint — and 
I paint — Oh! the beautiful fawn-colored 
cow, sunk up to her dewlap in the damp 
grass ; I am going to paint her — crac ! 
there she is ! Famous, famous ! Dieu, how 
well Fve hit her off! Let's see what that 
peasant will say who is watching me paint 
and does not dare to approach. ^ Ho, Simon ! ' 
Good; here is Simon approaching and 
looking. ^ Well, Simon, what do you think 
of that?' ^Oh, well. Monsieur, it's very 
beautiful, of course [Oh dom^ M'sieu^ c'est 
Men biau, alleziy 'And you see well what I 
meant to paint ?' ' Why, of course, I see 
what it is ; it's a large yellow rock you've 
put there.' 

''Boom! boom! noon! the sun aflame 
burns the earth. Boom ! everything grows 
heavy, everything becomes serious — the 
flowers hang their heads, the birds are silent, 
the sounds of the village come to us ; they 
are the heavy labors, the smith whose 
hammer resounds upon the anvil. Boom! 
let us return home — One sees everything; 
there is nothing there longer. Let us go 



and breakfast at the farm, a good slice of 
home-made bread, with butter freshly 
churned — eggs, cream, ham — Boom ! 
Work, my friends, if you will; I rest, I 
take my noon nap — and I dream a morning 
landscape — I dream my picture — by and 
by I will paint my dream. 

^' Bam ! Bam ! The sun sinks towards 
the horizon — It is time to return to 
work. Bam ! the sun gives a blow of tam- 
tam. Bam! it sets amidst an explosion of 
yellow, of orange, of fire red, of cherry, of 
purple — Ah, it's pretentious and vulgar; I 
don't like that — Wait ; let's sit down there 
at the foot of the poplar — close to that 
pond, as smooth as a mirror. 

^' Nature has a tired mien — the flowerets 
seem to revive a little — poor flowerets, they 
are not like the rest of us men, who find 
fault with everything. They have the sun 
on the left — they are patient. * Good,' 
they say to themselves, * presently we'll 
have it on the right ' — They are thirsty — 
they wait. They know that the sylphs of 
the evening are going to sprinkle them with 
vapor from their invisible watering pots ; 
they wait in patience, giving thanks to 


C O R O T 

" But the sun sinks more and more 
behind the horizon. Bam ! Bam ! it casts 
its last ray, a smoke of gold and purple 
which fringes the fleeing cloud. Now 
then see ! it has altogether disappeared ! 
Good ! Good ! the twilight begins. 

" DieUy how charming it is ! The sun 
has disappeared — There remains in the 
softened sky only a vaporous tint of pale 
lemon, the last reflection of that charlatan 
of a sun, which melts into the deep blue 
of night in passing through the greenish 
shades of pale turquoise, of a fineness 
unheard of, a delicacy fluid and intan- 
gible. The fields lose their color — the 
trees only form brown or gray masses — the 
darkened waters reflect the soft tones of the 
sky — One begins to see nothing more — 
one feels that everything is there — All is 
vague, confused. Nature is falling asleep 
— Yet the fresh air of the evening sighs 
among the leaves ; the birds, those voices of 
the flowers, repeat the evening prayer — 
The dew strews with pearls the velvet of 
the lawn — The nymphs flee, hide them- 
selves — and desire to be seen. 

"Bing! a star of heaven plunges head 
foremost into the pond. Charming star, 



whose scintillation the trembling of the 
water increases ; you are looking ^t me — 
you are smiling at me and winking too — 
Bing! a second star appears in the water, a 
second eye opens. Welcome, fresh and 
smiling stars. Bing! bing! bing! three, 
six, twenty stars, all the stars of heaven 
have given each other a tryst in that blessed 
pond. All grows still darker — Only the 
pond scintillates — It is a swarming of stars. 
The illusion is produced — The sun having 
hidden itself, the inner sun of the soul, the 
sun of art rises — Bon ! Voila mon tableau 
fait ! '' And afterward — 

"After my excursions I invite Nature to 
come and pass several days with me. Brush 
in hand, I hunt for nuts in the forest of my 
atelier. I hear there the birds singing, the 
trees trembling under the wind. I see 
there the brooks flowing, and the river 
charged with a thousand reflections of the 
sky and of all that lives upon the banks- — 
the sun rises and sets chex moiy 

Corot, painted by himself, in the open- 
hearted abandon of correspondence, was a 
simple child, whose life fed upon the sun- 
light and the song of Nature, just as all 
green things that live in the forest do. 

C O R O T 

Life's sorrows and disappointments he knew 
unquestionably; for who can pass through 
life and not know them? Summer does 
not rule in Nature throughout the twelve- 
month, and even midsummer's shield cannot 
ward off the blow and gloom of the storm. 
Yet there are hearts, as there are fountains, 
so pure and self-nourished, that no shadow 
or soil of earth can tarnish them long. 
The returning sunlight chases the shadows 
away, the broken twigs and dead leaves, 
cast therein by the wind, are washed up on 
the bank, the impure dust lies clear at the 
bottom of the pool. 

So it was with Corot; and the more we 
know about him, the more complete be- 
comes the correspondence between the work 
and the man, the man and his environ- 
ment. He went by the name of ^* le 
Pere Corot ; '' Isnard calls him '' le bon Papa 
Corot;" all his contemporaries speak of him 
with tenderest affection. Dumesnil says 
that in his younger years he was among 
the gayest of the gay at the dances held in ^ 
the Academy of Design, and always wore | 
a gorgeous yellow Spanish costume. Built n 
like a Hercules, he was as jovial as he wasil 
robust. In his studio he wore a little cap ' ! 



of striped cotton and a blue blouse. A 
high, stiffly-starched standing collar and a 
pipe were also part of his costume. To and 
fro he went humming, 

" Je sais attacher les rubans, 
Je sais comment poussent les roses." 

Charles Blanc says he was loved as a 
comrade and respected as a master among 
the landscapists, his juniors by twenty years. 
^*It is hard to say," he adds, "of how 
many things his popularity consisted. His 
uprightness and his good humor counted 
for a good deal therein, his rustic air too, 
his frank face, with fine and tender ex- 
pression, and his joviality." William Hunt 
says: "Corot was strong, stanch, decided, 
cheerful about his own things. When I 
saw him last he was seventy-seven. He 
said: *If the Lord lets me live two years 
longer, I think I can paint something 

He painted smiling or singing, f While 
at his work he was constantly exclaiming: 
"Correggio, Giorgione, lend me your 

* When some one remarked, " You, Corot, built as you are, you 
will last one hundred years," he replied, "I — one hundred and four 
years! I expect to obtain from the l^o/t Dieu les quatre au cent!'''' 

t Silvestre says : " He talks or listens to you hopping on one foot 
or both." ** When the public was all opposed to him, he said, with 
his good and fine smile ; * They will come to it.' '* 



blouse, with great parasol, and was alv - 
talking aloud with Nature, with the bu a 
the butterflies, the trees. « Is it for me yo; 
are singing/little bird? Well, this is fine!' 
Every sprino- h,^ (^,-A *,■.. tjjg qq,..,*.^.. tt 

said:' "? '— 


with > . . 

burst, wi... ,.,y 

little birric ^ ^^ 



cheerily. ^"^^"^ ^^ ^o-xo^ 

Father has put ..,.. .,, .u.,.^, 
day's work pleased him, he v u..iu .^v 
his mother: "A little fairy came, and, uy 
touching me with her wand, has given me 
He ]nver 


usmg the , 
ward, he sa 

music . 
^ leasure besidt, 
that, here's Dnn! 

1-.. . ....... ^ 

C O R O T 

brush ! " He wandered about in a large blue 
blouse, with great parasol, and was always 
talking aloud with Nature, with the birds, 
the butterflies, the trees. '' Is it for me you 
are singing, little bird? Well, this is fine!" 
Every spring he fled to the country. He 
said: "In the spring I have a rendezvous 
with Nature, with the buds which begin to 
burst, with the new foliage and with my 
little birds, perching curiously on the end 
of a branch to look at my work.'' He did 
not like to have night come and stop his 
painting, yet he would always remark 
cheerily : " Well, I must stop, my heavenly 
Father has put out my lamp." When his 
day's work pleased him, he would say to 
his mother: "A little fairy came, and, by 
touching me with her wand, has given me 

He loved music passionately, but was no 
reader. He had purchased a ticket once, 
for a symphony concert when Daubigny 
happened in, and Corot insisted upon his 
using the ticket. In referring to it after- 
ward, he said that he had heard every bit 
of the music in his room, shared Daubigny's 
pleasure beside, and, "over and above all 
that, here's Daubigny thanking me for it!" 



He bought books on the Quays for their form 
and color, and put them in the hands of 
his models. He read, we are told, one 
book over and over again, selecting for that 
purpose Corneille's Polyeuctes. '^ For twenty- 
years,'' one of his friends says, '' he has 
been going over the first two hundred 
verses of this tragedy, but never gets to the 
end of it, and, when he talks of reading, 
he says: *^But this year I must finish 

His generosity was in harmony with the 
rest of his great, glad nature. He would 
never accept any money from his pupils 
and gave always generously, even when 
living on the modest income allowed 
him by his father. In 1855 he inherited 
an estate yielding annually 25,000 francs. 
Success in art came at about the same time, 
and he was soon earning large sums with 
his brush. He placed the inherited income 
out of his reach, allowing it to accumulate 
for his nephews and nieces, and the estate 
had nearly tripled at his death. His own 
habits were very simple, and he used the 
surplus of his earnings for his chief diver- 
sion, helpfulness to others. 

He gave away many annuities, some, his 


r'tfX!^', ■ -y^%^ 

B A 

r II 

»r that 




it never gets to the 

vvheu he talks of reading, 

'But this year I must finish 

s generosity was in harmony with the 
f his gr^^^^a^^^^^ure. He would 

.-^ tr pupils 




ms with 

inherited income 

it to accumulate 

id nieces, and the estate 

^a at his death '^is own 

,ere very simpl ' ' the 

plus of his earnin aiver- 

helpfulness U 

gave awa ne, h 

C O R O T 

godson says, of 6,000 francs each. To en- 
courage and assist his less fortunate com- 
rades, he would pretend to be enthusiastic 
about their paintings and purchase them. 
The artist, Honore Daumier, had become 
blind, and it was reported that his landlord 
was about to dispossess him. Corot pur- 
chased the villa and sent the title deeds to 
Daumier with the message: ^^This time I 
defy your proprietor to put you out of 
doors." Daumier replied: ^^ You are the 
only man I esteem enough to be able to 

accept from him anything without blush- 

:«^^ ^> 

He made one year, near Arras, a study \ 
of a little peasant girl. On his return the . 

following year he learned that the child ^J 

had been drowned. Carrying his sketch to 
the father, he said: ^^Here is your daughter 
come back!" The peasant would never 
permit that sketch to be either loaned to an 
exposition or seen by any one but himself, 
and directed in his will that it be laid on 
his heart to sleep with him in the tomb. 

Corot encouraged all who frequently 
sought his assistance to continue to come, 
declaring that it was a pleasure to him to 
help others. He said: '^I would rather 



give to ten who are undeserving than deny 
a single one who is in want;" and again: 
*^I never accumulate my revenues, and, 
from fear of a flood, I raise the gates every 
year ; that is, if something remains over, I 
make a little distribution to all my neph- 
ews. . . . Those who are rich buy shawls 
for their wives, those who are poor buy 
mutton or petticoats/' 

Yet Corot never looked upon giving as 
meritorious; he had more than he needed 
and others lacked ; he was simply readjusting 
the balance ; besides, '' it's nothing, it's my 
temperament and my happiness. I gain it 
back so quickly in painting a bough; that 
always produces for me more than it costs. 
I work better and with the heart more at 
ease. Once I gave away a thousand francs; 
that was all my pocket could stand for the 
moment. The next day I sold paintings 
for six thousand francs. You see that the 
thing had brought me good fortune, and it's 
always so." 

When he foresaw, in 1870, that the 
siege of Paris was inevitable, he returned 
thither August 29th and remained until 
the end, helping those in need with his 
money, assisting in the ambulances, and 


C O R O T 

working hard all the time at his painting, 
without which, he said : ^^I believe I should 
have gone mad." When the national sub- 
scription for the liberation of the territory 
was opened, he gave ten thousand francs, 
and was deeply pained when it was re- 
turned to him because the plan had mis- 
carried. And, most touching of all, it was 
on his own deathbed that he learned of 
Millet's death. Corot esteemed Millet 
highly; but Sensier says they were never 
friends, only acquaintances. Yet Corot at 
once took measures to provide permanently 
for Millet's destitute family. 

Auguste Tsnard says : ^^ Of religion, Corot 
loved only Christ and his teachings. He 
had always in his room ^The Imitation of 
Christ,' and it is in this favorite book that 
he learned how to pass life in calm, and to 
close his heart to the breath of ambition 
and of egoism." What wonder that Burty 
should say of him that he was perhaps 
more loved than any other contemporary ! 

Corot's life, after his return from Rome, 
resembles Millet's with those wide diver- 
gences which the difference in their 
natures and in their financial conditions 
caused. Corot too had to struggle almost 



until the end against the opposition of 
those in power in the art world. He was 
decorated after the Salon of 1846, and that 
persuaded his father to say: ^^I think I 
might allow Camille a little more money 
now/'* But the battle continued still for 
a long time. Success came to him only at 
the age of sixty. After he had become 
famous, Corot said: "What an astonishing 
thing it is for me to find myself to-day an 
interesting man! What a pity that it was 
not told sooner to my father, who had such 
a grudge against my paintings and who did 
not find anything good therein because I 
did not sell them ! '' 

The grand medal of honor was not 
given to Corot after the exposition of 
1874. His friends had wished therefor, 
and considered it fitting as a final and full 
recognition of the master's work. A 
movement started in consequence among 
the artists, which led to a public sub- 
scription and the preparation of a gold 
medal, the gift of his friends and admirers. 

Just at this time his sister, with whom 
he had shared the cottage in Ville-d'Avray, 
died. His own health, hitherto rugged, 

* Will Low says that his allowance was doubled. 
[ 122 ] 


C O R O T 

for he had never been sick, declined there- 
after rapidly. 

The dinner was given at the Grand Hotel 
the 29th of December, three to four 
hundred persons were present, and the dear 
old master was welcomed with great en- 
thusiasm and affection. 

When the medal was presented Corot, 
already sadly changed in appearance, whis- 
pered to the presiding officer: " One is very 
happy to feel one's self loved like that.'" 
It was the end; he went to his atelier at 
times, but could not work, yet he loved to 
linger there among his studies; he had 
given scarce any away, and they were the 
journal of his artist life. His pictures for 
the Salon of 1875 were ready, lacking only 
his signature, when his strength failed 
him utterly. They were brought to him 
as he lay on his dying bed; after signing 
them he fell back, saying: ^* Behold all 
that I can do.'' It was the last time that 
he touched a brush. 

A few days before his death he said to 
Fran^ais, his favorite pupil: "See, I have 
almost arrived at resignation, but it is not 
easy, and I have been striving for it a long 
time. Nevertheless, I have not to complain 



of my lot ; quite the contrary. I have had 

health during seventy-eight years, love of 

Nature, of painting and of work. My 

family consisted of brave folk. I have had 

good friends, and believe I have done ill to 

no one. My lot in life has been excellent, 

and, far from addressing any reproach to 

destiny, I can only thank her. I must go, 

I know it, and I do not wish to believe 

it ; despite myself I conserve still a little 

hope, and (trying to smile) sometimes I 

would like to get near that soup I loved so 

well, and, if Madame T. put a good bit of 

cabbage in the dish, that would be perfect."* 

On one of the last mornings he said : " I 

saw last night, in a dream, a landscape with 

a sky all rose. The clouds also were rose; 

it was delicious. I recall it very well. It 

will be admirable to paint.'" In his last 

/ moments he moved his right hand to the 

I wall, his fingers seemed to be holding a 

\ brush, and he said : ^' Look, how beautiful 

M it is ! I have never seen such admirable 

landscapes.'' He died on Tuesday, the 

twenty-third of February, 1875, five weeks 

after the death of Millet. 

I j \ Corot's methods of work were radically 

\ j * This was an allusion to the reunions with his artist friends. 



rent .. .. . lillet's. We . 

VTillet's p-rent canvases are th^ 

experi , long and carefu. 

--_ painfully slow and conscientious c 

on. Hunt savs thnt he would work over 
canvas lonp- rv one eke thouo"f 




I A ,> i 



■ here is Derh-rrr-: 

_ -j_-" - - ,._--.._ . - .- 

ed that of Lope de V«l_„. ,. 

1 the rbvthmed voices wherein Nature 

\ r^f:'c:^ nntfino^ fortb 


0> i 


The 'Bath of' Diana 

C O R O T 

different from Millet's. We know that all 
of Millet's great canvases are the results of 
deep experience, long and careful study, 
and painfully slow and conscientious execu- 
tion. Hunt says that he would work over 
a canvas long after every one else thought it 
finished, when the picture was sold and he 
needed every franc that new work could 
bring him. 

Corot, we are told, worked rapidly, and 
disliked to either spend a long time over a 
canvas or to take it up anew, from fear of 
dulling the spontaneity and the charm of 
the immediate interpretation. 

There is perhaps no word-artist, save 
Shakespeare, whose natural endowment sur- 
passed that of Lope de Vega. He heard 
all the rhythmed voices wherein NatureU 
speaks; birds carolling, trees putting forth U 
green leaves, fountains sparkling, grain , \ 
fields waving, dashed with the scarlet ^ • 
poppy; or where, in human life, as well 
as in Nature, the strong, stern chords of 
passion are struck. Singing as the birds 
sing, producing without eflfort, he failed to 
create a " Lear,'' a '^ Hamlet *' or a ^^ Pros- 
pero." Yet how Nature shimmers through 
Lope's verse! How perfectly he re-gives, 



in poetic numbers, the tripping measures 
and the dewy atmosphere of the springtime ! 

Yet this is not said in criticism or in 
condemnation of Corot's methods. He 
knew best how to express what Nature 
said to him. That fresh grace, akin to 
Lope's, which he feared to tarnish by 
using the brush in hours when Nature 
was not with him, constitutes the distinct- 
ive charm of his canvases — to each artist, 
liberty and his own conscience as supreme 
judge ! 

Corot said: "To enter well into my 
andscapes one must have at least the 
patience to let the mist rise; one only 
penetrates therein little by little, and, when 
one is there, one ought to enjoy oneself 
But we do not need to wait for the mist to 
rise in order to enjoy ourselves in that land 
of idyls, which is Nature and yet not 
Nature, a landscape seen in the real world, 
and then re-seen, transfigured, in the world 
of dreams. "I dream my picture,'' Corot 
said; "by and by I will paint my dream." 
We would not have Corot otherwise. We 
are willing to renounce the grand master 
rather than sacrifice the weaver of ballads. 

Whose work is best done, his work is 


C O R O T 

highest; for to each of her interpreters 
Nature has assigned a special service, and 
who can tell through which portal of her 
many-doored temple the greater throng will 
come to find rest and renewal of courage. 
It may be at the proud portal of the drama, 
it maybe at the humble gate of the ballad; it 
may be in an epic strophe of Millet, it may 
i in a summer idyl of Corot, 


i< m 

u£!4a2,iion ^-xoW^iTt 



i^ O V U 


Following the main street of Barbizon, 

some five minutes' ivalk beyond Millet's 

home, you will i vnnr Vft, through 

the bars of a bro ,v,. ,...,,%... 
little garden of f 
There j 
rear of 

^^^»^ -. .le 

^' c left a 

c^mpletefff ■ ^ --^^!^ 

nearest the church, 

cupies the whole upper floor, and v. a, wuce 

used for storing hay, but by Theodore 

Rousseau as an atcHcr-. A photograph of 

^^ ne sb ^f* vi'nf^Q neering in 

Bverv 1 

It \ 


'Ji.V.'t ill. Uhj, 

'^? «^ covered 

'*^i^>^e^ .in order 

o watch 

iny, scarce 

necessary fun. , id tl 

-espondinelv small. 

,^r"S ? - i C- O r- IX 



Following the main street of Barbizon, 
some five minutes' walk beyond Millet's 
home, you will see on your left, through 
the bars of a broad iron gate, a charming 
little garden of flower beds and low trees. 
There is a tiny church to the right, in the 
rear of the garden. It is of recent date, 
having been built since the time of the 
great artists. Farther back to the left a 
nest of a house is hiding. Vines cover it 
completely; a stone stair leads, at the end 
nearest the church, to a loft which oc- 
cupies the whole upper floor, and was once 
used for storing hay, but by Theodore 
Rousseau as an atelier. A photograph of 
Rousseau's time shows the vines peering in 
everywhere, scarce allowing space enough 
at the door for entrance, looking in at the 
bedroom window to wish good morning, 
and striving to clamber up the covered 
stair, leading to the master's atelier^ in order 
to watch him at his work. The rooms are 
tiny, scarce large enough to contain the 
necessary furniture, and the rear garden is 
correspondingly small. 



Man was for Millet the grand earth 
poem. But Rousseau said: "The tree 
which rustles and the heather which grows 
are for me the grand history, that which 
will not change. If I speak well their 
language, I shall have spoken well the 
language of all times.'' 

Pierre-Etienne-Theodore Rousseau was 
born in Paris, April 15th, 181 2, arid was 
the only child of his parents. His father 
was a successful tailor, and a man of super- 
abounding kindness. He does not seem to 
have been able to resist any appeal for help, 
and his charities, with his indulgence 
toward his noble patrons, prevented him 
from ever accumulating a property. Sensier 
says that he gave away ten thousand francs 
at the time of the burning of Salins in 
1825; Rouget de Lisle, the author of the 
** Marseillaise,'' was supported by him for 
years, as also a multitude of others, in- 
cluding political refugees of all nationalities, 
poets and vaudevillists. Rousseau's mother 
was a woman of superior character and 
charming appearance. The home was a 
happy one, the wife and mother its centre, 
and husband and son attached to her with 
a tender and respectful affection. A num- 

[ 132 ] 


ber of Rousseau's kinsfolk on his mother's 
side had already shown artistic talent. Her 
cousin, Alexandre Pau de Saint-Martin, was 
a landscape painter of some reputation. 
The boy, Theodore, loved to pass his free 
hours in the atelier of his uncle, as he 
called him, copying the paintings on the 
wall; but he always added something of 
his own, the wall itself, the nearest objects, 
in fine, all surroundings. It was a kind of 
instinct with him to give everything its 
natural environment. At the same time he 
was copying, with his pen, engravings, and 
displaying therein that same tenacity and 
patience of detail which characterized his 
mature work.* 

When Rousseau was from twelve to 
fifteen years old he accompanied M. Maire, 
a friend and compatriot of his father, into 
the forests of the Franche-Comte. M. 
Maire and his brother had established a 
sawmill in a faubourg of Besanfon for the 

^Sensier records also the germination of another characteristic 
trait of Rousseau, his sympathy with the lower orders of Nature, 
his unwillingness to inflict suffering upon anything that had life. 
One day, while handling a lizard, its tail was broken off, and he 
would never thereafter touch one from fear of injuring it. As 
mature man, he preferred to bear with the ants and other insects 
that invaded his home rather than disturb them. Everything that 
lived, animal and vegetable, had for him its habits and its rights, 
and it was unjust and cruel for man to interfere. For the same 
reason he would never carry a firearm. 


exploitation of the timber, and the lad 
served as aid and secretary. He saw now 
for the first time a forest in its wild state, 
and the trees charmed and intoxicated him. 
There he remained a year, when the failure 
of the enterprise caused him to return home. 

It is supposed that his parents had chosen 
for him the career of civil engineer, but 
the lad took the matter into his own hands. 
He was the only child, and, while docile 
and affectionate, also resolute and persistent, 
and his parents stood loyally by him, 
always seconding every just desire. Pro- 
viding himself with an artist's outfit, with- 
out informing any one of his purpose, young 
Theodore went one day to the Butte 
Montmartre, and, sitting down in front 
of the old church, ^^ began to sketch what- 
ever he saw before him — church, cemetery, 
trees, walls, and the upward slope of the 
land. In a few days he had finished a 
study which was accurate, firm and very 
natural in its tone.'' 

The cousin-uncle, Pau de Saint-Martin, 
was consulted. He took the lad off with 
him to Compiegne, and had him make 
studies from Nature under his eye. On 
their return he advised Rousseau's parents 



to send him to Remond, a landscapist, 
whom he esteemed as second only to 
Demarne among French masters. This 
occurred in 1826. Rousseau began there- 
fore in earnest his art career at fourteen. 

He was not pleased with the instruction 
received in Remond's classical atelier. He 
always spoke of it afterward with contempt. 
"It took me several years to get rid of 
Remond's spectres.'' He escaped, therefore, 
as often as he could from the atelier rigime 
into the open freedom of Nature, making 
Sunday excursions to the charmingly wooded 
suburbs of Saint-Cloud and Sevres, and, on 
longer holidays, pushing further out into 
the country. Once he traversed the Forest 
of Fontainebleau to Moret, some fifty miles 
from Paris, and made a study of the route 
royale. The natural school of landscapists 
had not yet come decisively forward; the 
classical school was in undisputed mastery. 
But Rousseau's instinctive aversion to the 
atelier rules and his intense love for Nature 
were already an indication of the coming 

The Grand Prix de Rome, left vacant 
by Michallon's death, was open to com- 
petition, and Remond desired to put Rous- 



seau in training therefor. The pupil at 
first consented, and prepared himself to 
paint the classical trees and the proper 
heroic surroundings for the theme an- 
nounced in the official programme; "Ze- 
nobia dead in the waves of A raxes, picked 
up by fishermen." But his artistic common 
sense revolted. "What need had they of 
digging up Zenobia in order to put soul 
into a landscape?'' He gave up the task 
and played truant with more seriousness 
than before, sketching in the open air 
at Dampierre and the Vaux de Cernay, and 
in the dull winter days copying in the 
Louvre the animals of Du Jardin and 
Claude's landscapes. He studied the human 
figure in the atelier of Guillon-Lethiere. 

The year 1830 was an epoch-making 
one for Rousseau. He was then between 
eighteen and nineteen, an age when, if 
young manhood is strong, there is a joy in 
that strength and a confidence in its powers 
of achievement which seldom return with 
mature years. The spirit of the age, too, 
was youthful, revolutionary and Byronic. 
Rousseau had resolved to shake off entirely 
the academic fetters. Though his biog- 
rapher does not state it in so many words, 



it is clear that he felt, if Nature alone were 
to be his teacher and guide henceforth, he 
must seek her out where she manifested 
herself in all her primitive strength. 

He went therefore with a friend directly 
to the Cantal mountains in the Auvergnat, 
**a weirdly picturesque volcanic region,'* 
Mollett says, "where the hilltops spread 
in star-shaped ranges from a central dome, 
and between them are inaccessible ravines 
and noisy torrents rushing through with 
frequent tremendous cascades, and on the 
hills black forests of firs, alternating with 
wild scenery of barren upheavals of rock." 
Rousseau's eye became clear and his hand 
firm in the presence of this unshorn Nature, 
and his spirit, breaking entirely with the 
traditions of the schools, went forth in 
freedom and with ecstasy to gather in its 
first harvest. 

Naturally the savage and bizarre aspects 
of Nature attracted him most. *' He turned 
himself," Sensier says, "with a kind of 
delight to the most sinister mountains, the 
widest horizons, the secret places invaded 
by the capricious travails of the genesis. 
The country afforded him a vast uplifting 
of frightful precipices, where the Cere now 

3 "~^^"^"^'^'"" • 


plunges in impetuous rapids, now falls 
asleep 4fi~-^yawning abysses. He applied 
himself with insatiable pleasure to rendering 
a denuded rock, to painting the ruggedness 
of virgin soil, to sounding the giddy depths 
of black torrents and accursed whirlpools, 
as well as of gloomy caverns." This first 
season of freedom was one of revelling in 
Nature. He roamed everywhere about the 
forests and wilds, sharing with the goat- 
herds their bread and couch. He passed 
the nights frequently in the open air, 
watching the pallid light, seeking to know, 
to grasp, the life of that mysterious world 
of the night. 
^_ Millet went forth to the work appointed 
him as a mature man. He had counted 
the cost, a life-long struggle, poverty, and 
perhaps no recognition. Corot escaped 
to the summer land of his dreams; his 
servile years ended with the day when he 
went down to the bank of the Seine and 
began to sketch. Thenceforth his life 
flowed on as a river, calmly resolute, deeply 
peaceful. Rousseau made his choice in an 
ecstasy of glad communing with Nature, 
when manhood's strength leaped as an un- 
locked fountain within him, 



(From a ^Dra^wingJ 


p: now falls 

He applied 

ire to rendering 


/ depths 


ly caverns. his first 

as one of revelling in 
e roamed every v^here about tht 
forests and wilds, sharing with the goat- 
herds their bread and couch. He passec 
the nights frequently in the open air. 
\. atching the pallid light, seeking to know, 

^^^*^"f terious world 


ot escapes 
'lis dreams; hi 
the day when h' 
bank of the Seine anc 
b cch. Thenceforth his lif 

f^ river, calmly resolute, deepl 

peacetui. Rousseau ma; hoice in an 

ecstasy of glad co: h Nature, 

vhen manhood' i as an un- 

locked fountain 


One stormy night he thought himself 
lost in the vegetation of a morass without 
limits. He was in water up to his arms 
several times and in real danger. At day- 
break he came to a pasture, upon a slope 
of the ancient domains of Recoule and 
Muret, and found there a goatherd in his 
hut, who warmed him at his fire and 
gave him a breakfast of buckwheat bread, 
quail, and cheese made from goat's milk. 
He remained there two days, running about 
with his host and reconnoitering the whole 
canton, and ended the adventure by drag- 
ging the mountaineer to the little city of 
Thiezac in order to requite his hospitality 
with a town feast. 

On Rousseau's return to Paris with his 
studies, his master, Remond, *^gave him 
over to the infernal gods. His work, he 
said, was the fruit of delirium, and there 
was nothing wiser for him to do now than 
to go back and live with the swineherds of 
the Auvergnat." At this crucial moment, 
happily for Rousseau, his parents had suffi- 
cient affectionate confidence in him to 
allow him entire liberty of action. Nor 
was he long without an advocate, whose 
judgment in artistic matters was respected. 

[ 139] 


Ary Scheffer was then known as a patriotic 
painter and a literary critic. The works of 
Rousseau were shown to him, and he was 
profoundly impressed. He felt that an 
original and robust talent was here marking 
out a path for itself. In his own youth 
and poverty he had received substantial aid 
and encouragement from Gerard, the official 
painter of the king, and it seemed to him 
the noble way of repaying that debt to aid 
in a similar manner a young artist of such 
unusual promise. He took Rousseau's 
paintings therefore, *^hung them on the 
walls of his own atelier and called the 
attention of all his visitors to them as the 
works of a most original and incisive 

Rousseau had an immediate success. 
The young Romantic School saw in him 
an exponent of their ideas. The uncon- 
ventional and robust spirit of his studies 
was in accord with the aspirations of that 
school, and with much of the earlier work 
of its master in literature — Victor Hugo. 
Here was an artist who did not hesitate to 
paint the rugged and bizarre aspects of 
Nature, without preoccupying himself as 
to whether such landscapes were in harmony 

[ ^40 ] 


with the traditions of the schools and the 
ruling laws of taste in art. It was enough 
for him that he had found them in Nature 
and had faithfully represented them, or 
interpreted what they said to him. With- 
out seeking such distinction, simply because 
the march of his spirit was in harmony 
with that of the young generation, Rousseau 
became a champion of the new school. 
His work found also favor in the eyes of 
critics who were non-partisan, and all of 
them agreed that his studies marked a 
grand advance in French art in the direc- 
tion of truth and naturalism. 

Rousseau did not, in his elation over his 
success, remain idle and cease to advance. 
The recognition he had won stimulated him 
the rather to more earnest study. Though, 
in his work, a recognized leader of the young 
school, he took little part in the discussions 
of the day between Classicists and Romanti- 
cists. He preferred to think and work. He 
said later : '^ I thought only of one thing, to 
account to myself for the laws of light and 
perspective. I did not attach any impor- 
tance to what they found original, new and 
romantic in me^ I sought the picture.'' 

During the day he worked in his atelier^ 



(9 Rue Taitbout), or in the open air at Saint- 
Cloud, and took counsel of his former 
master, Lethiere, who advised him to study 
in entire liberty. The evenings were spent 
socially in the restaurants. A favorite 
gathering place was at Lorentz's, 18 Rue 
Notre-Dame des Victoires. Almost all the 
members of that group have since become 
known'. They smoked a good deal but in 
other respects, making a virtue of necessity, 
were very abstemious. Water was their 
regular beverage. Burette was able once to 
offer five bottles of beer to the company, 
numbering fifteen, and that evening was 
marked with a red letter in their souvenirs. 
Sensier says: **They talked about the 
theatre, Hugo, Dumas, Barbier, painting, 
actresses, the republic, travels; they made 
charades, drew up programmes and estab- 
lished the Society of the Grelot (little bell), 
which was nothing but a laboratory of 
mystifications for the opponents of roman- 
ticism and a graft of the Society of the 
Invisibles of Charlet. They picked the 
Institute to pieces and laid an interdict 
upon the Academy; the great volcano of 
1830 had one of its little craters there.'* 
Several times they appointed a rendezvous 

[ 142 ] 


at midnight at the Place de la Concorde in 
order to go from there without stopping to 
Dampierre or Chevreuse and return at once 
to Paris the next evening, a walk of fifteen 
leagues. Rousseau was one of the inde- 
fatigable; he made sketches en route ^ but 
talked little about his work. 

In the following year, 1 8 3 1 , he exhibited 
for the first time in the Royal Salon of the 
Louvre. His picture was called " Site 
d'Auvergne," and was a souvenir of the 
bridge he had seen at Thiezac. It repre- 
sented a valley bounded by the Cantal 
mountains. In the centre was a bridge 
with ruined arches. The public paid little 
attention to it, but the young school praised 
it. Jules Dupre, who afterward became 
Rousseau's bosom friend, had also four land- 
scapes at the Salon and thus made his dSbut. 
The peace and rustic charm which his work 
translated won for him immediately the 
public opinion, while Rousseau's bolder en- 
deavors created both partisans and enemies 
and led to continual discussions. 

Rousseau felt he must know more of 
Nature; he must see everything in order to 
understand and interpret. '' He looked 
upon Auvergne," he said, *^as only his first 



day of creation. There he had assimilated 
the spectacles of Titanic regions, of the 
commencements of the world and of the 
first sorrows of Nature ; he had, in a sense, 
touched the age of iron and fire. He 
thought to make another step forward in 
studying countries that were in community 
of life with man, the rivers, the trees, the 
cultivated fields, the villages, and to attempt 
the exploration of the liquid element, the 
ocean, which gives to the phenomena of 
the skies their variety and their sudden 
movements/' So a portion of 1831 and 
1832 was given up to voyages of exploration 
into the unknown. He went first toward 
Rouen and studied the windings of the 
Seine, thence to Andelys where he sketched 
the Norman trees, the rocky slopes along 
the rivers, and the old castles; from there 
to Bayeux and the cliffs of Arromanches and 
explored the whole coast of la Manche and 
Calvados. He made a multitude of sketches 
and, in order to meet man under his native 
sky and know him too, he lodged in the 
country inns and mingled with the people. 
The following year, 1832, he visited 
Normandy again, going directly to Mont 
Saint-Michel, and from this trip brought 



back the sketch for his Salon picture of 
1833, ^^The Coast of Granville." This 
painting "placed Rousseau permanently in 
the front rank of French landscapists/'* 
M. Lenormand, in writing the criticism of 
the Salon for that year, selected the work 
of six landscapists — Aligny, Cabat, Corot, 
Delaberge, aDupre and Rousseau for an 
especial examination. He said of Rous- 
seau's painting: "The view of the coast of 
Granville is one of the truest things and the 
warmest in tone that the French school has 
ever produced. What M. Rousseau lacks 
is especially study ... he is still far from his 
goal, but I would not give his future for 
the entire career of twenty of our most 
renowned landscapists.'" 

Another round of the ladder was beneath 
young Rousseau's feet ; this victory was a 
far more signal one than that of three years 
before, but he remained constant to his aim 
and unyielding in his demands upon him- 
self. He shut himself up alone in his 
studio, and passed his days in meditation 
and his nights in painting. In the summer 
he returned to Saint-Cloud, but did not 
linger under the trees. He climbed to the 

^ Sensier. 

[ 145 ] 


heiP^s£^om which he could gain grand 
swee|^i|[i||HM^s^ and there painted two 

panoramas — -one from the terrace of Belle- 
Vue, showing the Basin of Paris and the 
course of the Seine, and the second from 
the terrace of Saint-Cloud, showing the 
valley of Meudon and the Isle Seguin. 
He made many studies her|| and often 
returned from these days of communing 
with Nature too agitated to sleep, and 
passed the hot summer nights in his garret 
atelier in feverish intense work. 

However rapid his achievement, his 
ambition far outran it. For the vision 
beautiful, more majestic, more alluring, 
I with each larger, deeper insight into 
I Nature with each day's work done, still 
eluded him. '^ I shall never grow old,'' he 
exclaimed once, '' as long as I have my eyes 
I to see." Had it been possible, Sensier 
/ suggests, he would have made of some 
1 aerial body a chariot, and, bending over it, 
\ have seized the grand forms of the earth, 
' the river's silver in the entirety of its 
windings, the green and brown of the plains 
as a checkered whole, the forest as a single 
green bouquet. And, since that might not 
be, he would go to the mountains, for there 



Nature appears in her grand< 
the outlook is freest. BujjpfcBPfWlald pre- 
pare his mind through tlrelesser aspects of 
Nature, although grand and primeval, in 
order that the majestic beauty of the 
mountain world might be read and inter- 
preted aright. So he went down in Novem- 
ber, 1 833, •to Chailly, on the edge of the 
Forest of Fontainebleau, and took lodgings 
with a peasant woman, la mSre Lemoine. 

Sensier says that the forest near Chailly 
was then as virgin as in the time of the Mero- 
vingians. The heather and oaks were its 
lords, and the horror of solitude was there. 
We have wandered about it recently: it is 
still grand with trees centuries old, and huge 
blocks of sandstone, tossed about in some 
play of the giants. The heather still covers 
with a robe of rose and misty green the open 
places. But the wild beauty and strength 
and the vast solitude of a primeval forest are 
absent. Rousseau was too intoxicated to 
work. That fever was upon him which 
seized upon Millet and his friend Jacque, 
when they first came to Barbizon. 

He walked incessantly, and the night 
found him often amidst the rocks, which, 
in the moonlight, seemed huge, crouching 



antediluv|an^onsters. ^*I heard," he told 
Sensier^*^*^rW of the trees; the sur- 

prises of their movements. Their varieties 
of form and even their pecuHarity of attrac- 
tion toward the Hght had suddenly revealed 
to me the language of the forest. All that 
world of flora lived as mutes, whose signs I 
divined, whose passions I discovered. I 
wished to converse with them and to be 
able to say to myself, through that other 
language, painting, that I had put my finger 
upon the secret of their grandeur." 

In the evenings, in the peasant home, he 
was genial with all the world. Phrenology 
was a craze of the day, and Rousseau 
amused himself in searching out the apti- 
tudes of the men about him, finding, as he 
wrote, *^ painters, poets, sculptors, diplomats, 
financiers, and verily even ministers in their 
natural state {bourre)!"^ ^^A peasant said 
to me: ^As for me, in the first place, I 
must command ; I don't like to be opposed; ' 
good for a minister. Another believes that 
the thunderbolt is an arrow that leaves the 
stars and comes to strike us, in order to talk 
a little roughly with us and excitd us to 
answer; good for a poet.'' 

* Bourre^ literally coarse wool. 



He remained in Chailly until February, 
1834, and would have stayed the winter 
through, had not Ary SchefFer pressed him 
to return to Paris and deliver a painting 
he was preparing for the Salon, and had 
sold to the Due d'Orleans before leaving 
for Fontainebleau. It was always a great 
sacrifice for Rousseau to part with a pic- 
ture. He was never satisfied with his 
work, and forever retouching it. He 
brought back only a few studies from 
Fontainebleau, but expected soon to return 
there again with a mind calmed and ready 
to receive and interpret. 

Meanwhile he made his preparations for 
a trip to Switzerland, intending to see 
everything, and not to return until the 
money received from the sale of his 
painting was exhausted. Just at this time 
he made the acquaintance of Jules Dupre, 
and the two young artists became at once 
the warmest friends. Dupre almost per- 
suaded Rousseau to defer his trip to the 
Alps, making in its stead an expedition in 
his company "to the borders of the 
Bousane or the Vienne, into the country of 
swamps and high forests;'' but Lorentz, a 
comrade from childhood, told him it might 



be the last time in his life that he could 
persuade himself he was a bird, soar above 
the mountains, share the society of the 
clouds and eat a bear steak. So Rousseau 
decided for Switzerland. A short time 
before starting, the director of the royal 
museums sent Rousseau an order for his 
Salon picture, which had already been sold 
to the Due d'Orleans, and Rousseau could 
proudly reply that it was too late. 

His star was ascending steadily and 
rapidly; admirers were multiplying and old 
acquaintances eager to claim him as friend. 
He was only twenty- two years old, and life, 
with all its splendid possibilities, ahead. 

The friends, Rousseau and Lorentz, had 
taken a solemn oath to meet in Switzerland ; 
Rousseau started first, and stopped en route 
at la Faucille, a mountain of the Jura 
range, with a wayside inn built of fir logs 
like the Swiss chalets. He planned to 
remain there a week while awaiting his 
comrade, but lingered four months. Mont 
Blanc had fascinated him, looking over 
from the distance across the lake of Geneva, 
and he had found at the inn a charming 
cavalier of the court of Louis Sixteenth, a 
nobleman with all the better qualities of 



the ancient regime, liberal and progressive 
besides. He loved Nature tenderly, w^as 
brave and generous to a fault; Homer and 
Horace w^ere his constant pocket-com- 
panions; w^ith three score years and ten 
w^ell passed, he was as vigorous in mountain 
tramps as a lad of twenty. 

His relations, to prevent him from dis- 
tributing his possessions among those in 
need, had taken them away from him, and 
reduced him to a meagre allowance. He 
had in consequence taken refuge in the 
mountains, where he could live without 
control as Nature ordered, worshipping 
God and loving his fellow-man in freedom. 
Young Rousseau's fresh way of interpreting 
Nature, his earnestness and enthusiasm, won 
the old count's heart. He had been dis- 
appointed in his own son; he adopted 
Rousseau in his stead, and called him mon 
jils, and Rousseau repaid him with a like 
affection. When the comrade (Lorentz) 
arrived, gayety and the abandon of youth 
took possession of the inn. The days were 
given to mountain courses ; in the evening 
Lorentz sang Musset's odes; they danced in 
the moonlight or talked philosophy, as the 
mood suggested. 



Rousseau paints himself to us in the 
confidences of a home letter to his mother. 

"My good Mama: 

" I am always the same . • . always the 
same happy life, always fresh for seeing, 
vigorous for running, and diligent for one 
end. . . . The Mont Blanc is our alarm clock 
in the morning, our vis-h-vis are the folk 
on the other side of the lake of Geneva, 
(8 leagues). I could not say that we get 
along badly, though we do dispense with 
the ceremony of saluting each other and 
saying bon jour when we look out at the 
window, for we don't meddle in our 
neighbors' affairs. Our sight carries fifty 
leagues about us, and we are equally 
everywhere, although only occupying the 
space of our two feet. I am delighted 
with having received my stretchers in 
order to commence my view of the Alps. 
I burn with the desire of fulfilling the 
difiicult task of giving upon canvas an 
idea of the immensity which surrounds 
me in order to distribute its benefits to 
those less fortunate than myself. ... I ask 
without scruple, because it seems to me 
that I have something to give. I have so 



much confidence in myself, mon DieUy when 
I examine myself/' 

He had chosen as his great theme a 
picture of the Alps, and was busily studying 
Mont Blanc under all atmospheric condi- 
tions and at every hour of the day. Sensier 
describes a superb scene witnessed in Sep- 
tember : 

"The Alps had veiled themselves under 
an immense black cloud mass, which held 
all the sky and the earth; the thunder 
roared, and the lightning flashes suggested, 
behind that gloomy shroud, Mont Blanc 
always calm, always august, under the 
insults of the elements; when a horrible 
crash of thunder, such as Belshazzar must 
have heard on his last day, re-echoed in that 
vast conflagration of celestial wrath, and, 
after a few minutes of convulsions and 
struggles, the veil, rent and overcome, lifted 
and fled away; then the Alps appeared, 
virgins of light, radiant against a blue sky, 
blue as the dreams of paradise cannot 
imagine/' The three friends, who had 
been silent for a long time, cried out with 
all their might: ^'Vive Dieu^ vive DieUy 
vive le grand artiste!'' Rousseau painted. 


as a souvenir of this scene, his canvas 
— "Viev^ of the Chain of Mont Blanc 
during a Tempest." He also made a study 
of the inn after a night of snow and frost, 
and this hung above his bed his life 

Rousseau's conduct had excited grave 
suspicions. La Faucille is not far from the 
Swiss frontier. A young fellow had been 
seen prowling about in the most unseason- 
able times and out-of-the-way places, always 
noting down something and making sketches. 
The sub-prefect of Gex, a French village 
near by, thought the matter needed investi- 
gation. So this worthy official, M. de 
Montrond, presented himself at the inn to 
examine the travellers and their baggage. 
Lorentz treated him courteously, and, by 
way of a flourish, turned a triple hand 
spring, thereafter offering his arm as to a 
grande dame^ and escorting Monsieur to the 
room where his comrade was madly at 
work. Rousseau received his euest some- 
what coldly, but invited him to be seated. 
Unfortunately the one chair of the room 
had vanished. A light dawned in the 
worthy official's mind, and he proposed a 
pipe for better understanding. 



Some time later, as guests of M. de 
Montrond, they witnessed from the balcony 
of his official residence an imposing spec- 
tacle, the descent of the flocks from the 
high mountain pastures at the approach of 
winter. "A ruminant nation emerges 
from the heights of the snowy peaks, and 
spreads itself down the slopes to the lowest 
pastures, resembling the precious stones of a 
jewel box that a Polyphemus would throw 
out of his cavern. The caravan descends 
grave and slow, invades the ravines, winds 
around the rocks, glides under the high 
arches of the firs. . . . This migration, 
of a Biblical majesty, continues for days 
and nights; they hear it still in the 
vagueness of the fog, and the horn of the 
herdsmen, the lowing of the cows and the 
tinkling of the bells, sound like the chords 
of a pastoral symphony.'' 

After visiting the Saint-Bernard, they 
returned to Paris in December, 1834. 
Rousseau had brought back a large number 
of studies and at once set to work to prepare 
a picture for the Salon. He chose for his 
theme the ''Descent of the Cattle.'' His 
own atelier was too cramped for a canvas of 
the size he wished to paint and Ary ScheflFer 


loaned him an atelier. The work was ready 
in a few months and was offered to the 
jury of the Salon of 1836.* They refused 
it. Ary Scheffer, indignant, hung it on the 
walls of his own atelier and invited all the 
art world to come and see it. Jules Dupre 
considered it an extraordinary creation. 
Rousseau had, through inexperience, fol- 
lowing Ary Scheffer's suggestions, used 
pigments which have since almost destroyed 
the painting. But, from the stir occasioned 
by the action of the jury, from Sensier's 
description, and from what we know of 
Rousseau at the time, it is clear that, what- 
ever may have been its immaturity, he had 
put into it all the glory and the strength of 
his artist springtime. 

The jury of that period was an irrespon- 
sible body, its members holding office for 
life. It consisted of the fourth class of the 
Institute, composed of painters, sculptors, 
architects, engravers and musicians. Rous- 
seau, in some way, it would seem, either 
through his social intimacy with a group of 
young artists and writers of revolutionary 
tendencies, or because of the prominence 

*The Salon opened at that time in January, and works of art 
intended for exhibition had to be sent in October or November of 
the preceding year. 



given to his work as the embodiment of a 
new school ideal, or for some deeper and 
unknown reason, had incurred the personal 
hostility of the ruling powers in the art 
world, and they had determined to crush 
him. He and his friends knew beforehand 
that no picture of his would be accepted 
at the Salon, and none was admitted until 
after the revolution of 1848 which did 
away with the old jury. 

The year 1836 was thus a turning point 
in Rousseau/s life. Since the state will com- 
mand nothing^F^him, nor the Salon admit 
his pictures, those great creations whereof 
he had dreamed, must be given up for a 
time ; for they demand large canvases — the 
Salon for their proper exhibition, and the 
state or a princely amateur as purchaser. 
So he turned from the mountains to the 
forest he had already learned to love, went 
down to Barbizon and established himself at 
Pere Ganne's inn, lodging in a peasant's 
house near by. 

The innkeepers of the artist towns of the 
forest, Barbizon, Marlotte, Grez, etc., divide 
their dining-room walls into wooden panels, 
and on these, as well as on cupboard doors and 
everything paintable, the artist guests exercise, 



in idle hours, their talents. Pere Ganne's 
inn has disappeared, but its panels, and 
cupboard doors, have been transported to 
the garden of the new Hotel of the Artists, 
kept by his son-in-law at the entrance to 
the forest. There you will see more of 
Rousseau's work than of any other of the 
famous guests of that Barbizon hostlery, a 
charrping panel of Corot, but nothing of 

Rousseau met Aligny and Diaz at Bar- 
bizon. During the day he worked in the 
forest, especially in the gorges of Apremont. 
In the evening he traced in ink the series of 
sketches from Nature, which he was prepar- 
ing as a study of the forest. Diaz was carried 
away by Rousseau's talent. When Rousseau 
started for a tramp in quest of a theme for 
his brush, Diaz followed, keeping always at 
a respectful distance. Where Rousseau set 
up his easel there Diaz might be found, a 
few paces away, painting a mossy rock or a 
tree trunk, but not venturing to speak. At 
last, one day, Diaz went forward and asked 
Rousseau to tell him the secret of his wizard 
coloring. Rousseau received him with open- 
heartedness, and that, says Sensier, was the 
point of departure of his (Diaz's) true talent. 



The Gorges of <Apremont — Study 


Pere Ganne 

panels, am 

"n sported t 

^^e Artists 

-"^ce t( 

re o^ 

>f th 

nnnr-1 of Corot, but nothing oi 

Mil.,.. ' ^ 

ivousseau met Aligny and Diaz at Bar 
bizon. During the day he worked in tht 
ii^rest, especially in the gorges of Apremont 

.k.. ..._..:^^ ^- fra^^ ' : • .V "W series ol 

s prepar- 

V, J. w 

^.xvvays a 

- ^ ^vousseau set 

./might be found, ^ 

. ng a mossy rock or t 

;enturing to speak. At 

Diaz went forward and asked 

tell him the secret rSh\<^ wizard 

coloring. Rousseau rf^rpiv^.^ HI h open- 

heartedness, and tha vas the 

n Vint of departure nf - talent. 


"Speak of it to Diaz, whose beard has 
whitened with work and pain, and you will 
see his Castilian face light up, as at the 
souvenir of a great chieftain who led him to 
victory, and you will feel his heart expand 
at the memory of Rousseau/' 

The horizon was darkening in many 
quarters for Rousseau ; his mother, passion- 
ately loved, died in 1837; the blow aimed 
at her son had struck her too ; his father's 
financial position became embarrassed through 
his lavish generosity. The years that follow, 
until the revolution of 1848, area season of 
severe discipline for Rousseau. It is doubt- 
ful whether he could have held himself 
strong, with undiminished creative force, 
had it not been for Jules Dupre. For he 
was, on the art side, supersensitive to 
criticism, pitiless in his self-demands, and 
merciless in his condemnation of work re- 
garded, often morbidly, as imperfect. 

He once said to Sensier, pointing to a 
painting, — "The Farm" — upon which he 
had worked for years : " Do you see that 
corner of canvas there, large as the hand, 
does it not seem to you that it far surpasses 
in intensity, in clearness, in expression, 
the rest of the canvas?" "Yes, without any 



doubt/' "Well, then, all the rest must 
pass under the control of that little centre ; 
all that which surrounds it submit itself to 
that diapason of light and' the whole of 
the picture be as charged with life as that 
which you see there. Must we not in- 
cessantly lift ourselves, surpass ourselves, in 
this terrible profession of painter?" "But, 
Rous$eau," objected Sensier, "with your 
reasoning, an artist would consume his life 
upon one picture." "What of that! Yes, a 
man ought to be courageous enough, loyal 
enough, and rich enough, not to produce but 
one prodigious work, in order that this work 
should be a chef-d'oeuvre ^ and glorify the 
man in his creation. And, furthermore, a 
great painter is only resplendent through a 
unique work. Michelangelo through his 
^Last Judgment,' Rembrandt through his 

* Night Guard,' Correggio through his 
^Antiope,' Rubens through his ^Descent 
from the Cross,' Poussin through his 

* Diogenes,' Gericault through his ^Medusa;' 
all that they create thereafter are always 
the children of giants, but inferior to 
their elders. If I could have my wish, I 
would be a millionaire for nothing else save 
to effect the genesis of a single and unique 



picture, to consecrate myself thereto and 
to find my pleasure therein, to suffer and 
joy in it, until, content with my work, 
after years of trial, I could sign it and say : 
* There my powers stop and there my heart 
ceases to beat;' the rest of my life would 
be passed in making designs, in painting for 
my relaxation, studies which would be only 
flowers thrown upon the work whereof I 
would be content/' 

Seeing him absorbed at the end of a day, 
Sensier asked: "Well, Rousseau, are you 
content with your day?'' "Ah, my dear 
friend," he answered, "never is a day long 
enough, never is night short enough; have 
you ever thought of that vain fellow, that 
impudent monsieur ^ who is called Pygmalion, 
so satisfied with his own work that he fell 
in love with it ? I should like to know that 
presumption. It must be a crushing happi- 
ness, but I shall never attain thereto." 

Sensier tells how Dupre saved at least one 
canvas, " Border of the Forest," which 
Rousseau, morbidly critical, was about to 
injure by overpainting, or destroy altogether, 
by urging him to turn it face to the wall 
and give it a long month's lease of life. 
When the month had expired, he examined 



it long and searchingly in Dupre's presence, 
finally exclaiming: ^*Well, I am going to 
sign it; it is finished/' 

On the human side, Rousseau's nature 
was rich indeed in its social capacities and 
powers of enjoyment. Pierre Millet, brother 
of Fran9ois, says : " One could not be near 
Rousseau and not love him." Yet, as seen 
in the biography of his friend, Sensier, he 
was one who peculiarly needed companion- 

Both of an age, Rousseau and Dupre be- 
came as brothers in their friendship. What- 
ever may have been Rousseau's counter gift, 
we know that Dupre gave to him cheerful- 
ness and courage, and was, for all the time 
of their comradeship, a helpful balance 
wheel in his troubled existence. To unite 
in a close alliance the artists, whom the 
jury had put under its ban, Dupre gave 
frugal fortnightly dinners, at which Ary 
Scheffer, Decamps, Eugene Delacroix, 
Barye, Chenavart and Rousseau were pres- 
ent. Ary Scheffer, though not among the 
outcasts, was generously the most outspoken 
in his criticism. 

The brother artists were weary of the 
Paris world and eager to live somewhere 

[ 162 ] 


together, where they needed but to cross 
the threshold to find Nature and could for- 
get all about Salons. So in 1841 they 
went to the native country of Dupre's 
parents, to a little village Monsoult, on the 
borders of the forest of Isle-Adam. Their 
studios were door to door, Madame Dupre, 
Jules's mother, presided over the home, and 
the days interlinked themselves as the lines 
in an idyl. In 1843, in P^^is, they had 
studios side by side; neither ever went out 
for an evening without the other and no 
invitation was accepted that did not in- 
clude both. 

In the following year, they went south 
to explore the barren heaths of Gascony, 
of whose picturesqueness alluring reports 
had come to them. After passing Bor- 
deaux and Mont-de-Marsan, " they visited 
those strange sandy countries, where the 
aborigines take care of their flocks, mounted 
upon stilts, where for leagues and hours 
one only sees dunes and sand plains, only 
vegetation, which is neither grass nor 
lichen, seeking to cover the ground with 
its clutching creepers. . . . They descended 
to Peyrehorade (Pierre who rolls), a charm- 
ing little city, which seemed to them a 


specimen of those happy nooks where one 
lives upon the blue of heaven and the mur- 
mur of the water ; from there to Tartas, 
thence to Begars — a happy country of woods 
and warmth; everything pushes forth there 
with the vigor of the tropics, melons climb 
the trees, lemons and orange trees grow as 
robust and fresh as our apples, in company 
with oaks as majestic as those of Fontaine- 
bleau. The dwellings of rough wood and 
thatch are built under the shadow of the 
oaks and even in their branches. Man 
there loves the tree, which protects him 
from the wind and sand. . . . Finally, close 
to the forest, through the maritime pines, 
appears the Gulf of Gascony, the wave blue 
as a sapphire which, without wrath and 
without obstacle, arrives, calm and strong, 
from the shores of America.'' 

There Rousseau began work on twoi 
paintings, *^The Farm'' and *^The Village 
Bakery," which, with a third, '* The Vil- 
lage,'* were to occupy him the rest of his ' 
life, and there the friends struggled in vain 
five months with the constant fathomless 
blue of the southern sky. " What man 
touches, he can become master of," Dupre 
said, " but to paint that sky without clouds, 


The Farm — Sketch 


^ere on< 

and the mur 

to Tar 

vy of wooCi 

" th ther 


iemi grov. 

id frcbii as our apples, m compan 

najestic as those of Fontaine 

t he dwellings of rough wood an 

thatch are built under the shadow of th 

. gIo; and even in their branches. Ma 

e lovei^^%-weit^'^\d£Eh protects hir 

. . Finally, clor 


vave blu 


^ork on tw 

.d ^^The Villa^ 

vitii a third, *^The Vi 

> occupy him the rest of b 

lid there the friends struggled in vaj 

hve months with the constant fathomle 

blue of the southern ' "'^'^hat ma 

touches, he can be v^r oi,'' Dupr 

^ but ' ' V without cloud 


that well of light, is as hopeless a task as it 
would be to sound its depths/' They gave 
it up at last, put their knapsacks on their 
backs and visited on foot a part of the 
Pyrenees, traversing the Basque country ; 
but they had sworn, " by the oaks of Begars 
and by the blue ocean, to meet every spring 
at Whitsuntide on the square of the 
village of Begars, in order again to start 
forth for the discovery of the azure, the 
blue without limit, in its immaterial 

But the times became harder. Rousseau 
had often, between 1837 and 1840, revisited 
Barbizon and lingered there on into the 
winter, after all others had left. He allowed 
himself therefore to be persuaded now, un- 
der the tranquil charm of the forest, that it 
was not well for man to see more than once 
in his life such agitating spectacles as the 
Basque country and the Pyrenees offered. 
One of his favorite forest haunts was Belle- 
croix, a region of rocks, heather and low 
trees, overlooking the valley of the Solle. 
A few twisted, dwarfed trunks stand there 
to-day, the decrepit survivors perhaps of a 
weird, gnarled forest of Rousseau's time. 
Rousseau said to Sensier, '' Ah, silence is 


golden : when I was at my observatory of 
Bellecroix, I did not dare to move, for the 
silence opened to me the course of discov- 
eries. The family of the forest then be- 
stirred itself. It is the silence which has 
permitted me, immovable as I was as a tree 
trunk, to see the stag in his lair and at his 
toilet, to observe the habits of the field rat, 
of the otter and the lizard, those fantastic 
amphibii. He who lives in the silence be- 
comes the centre of a world ; for a moment 
I would have been able to believe myself 
the sun of a little creation, if my study had 
not recalled to me that I had so much diffi- 
culty in aping on my canvas a poor tree or 
a tuft of heather.'' 

Rousseau loved the trees as individuals. 
For him each had a distinct character, and 
temperament and he would fain know each 
one apart. Thus he could come close to 
the heart of that great community we call 
the forest and, after years perhaps, his brush 
would be able to interpret to man the 
thought and sentiment that live within 
trunk and branches and disclose themselves 
in the outreaching of arms to the sun, in 
every movement, in every silence. 

In September, 1867, two months before 

[ 166 ] 

A Sketch 

B A R B I Z O N D A Y S 

my observatory of 
move, for the 
of disco V- 
" then be- 
nch has 
movabic as 1 was as a tree 
see the stag in his lair and at his 
o observe the habits of the field rat 
ui the otter and the lizard, those fantastic i 
amphibii. He who lives in the silence be- 
comes the centre of a world ; for a moment 
I would have been able to believe myself 
the sun of a li^SlSJS^f ^^^? if ^Y study had i 
not recalled to me that I had so much diffi- 
culty in aping on my canvas a poor tree or 

cer, anc 

Know each 

me close to 

eat community we call 

ti J, alter years perhaps, his brush 

wvKiiu ble to interpret to man the 

thought and sentiment that live within 

trunk and branches and disclose themselves 

in the outreaching of arms to the sun, in 

ery movement, in ever * kc. 

In September, iB ionths before 



his death, when already half paralyzed, he 
took a ride with Sensier to look once more 
at the heather. '' Pointing to the Sully, a 
giant of the wood, he said : ' One winter's 
day I saw it covered with snow, white as a 
warrior of Ossian. It extended its arms like 
an old bard, a branch fell at my feet and 
might have killed me. It would have been 
a beautiful death, there in the heart of the 
forest, killed by an oak and perhaps forgot- 
ten upon the heath for years. Do you 
see all those beautiful trees there ? I 
sketched them all thirty years ago ; I have 
had all their portraits. Look at that beech 
there, the sun lights it up and makes of it 
a marble column, a column that has mus- 
cles, limbs, hands and a fair skin, white and 
pallid, as that of the Hamadryads. . . . See 
the modest green of the heath and its plants, 
rosy, amaranthine, which distil honey for 
the bees and fragrance for the butterflies. 
The sun lights them up and gives them a 
diapason of extraordinary color. Ah, the 
sun, it is the Lyre of Orpheus, it makes 
everything move, feel, attract, it makes the 
stones eloquent ! ' " When on his dying 
couch, he said : '^ I watch for the ray, which 
traverses the poplars and comes to me. It 

[ 167 ] 


brings me still the good odor of the leaves 
and the cry of the insects. I have still to 
learn and to profit." 

Rousseau's long absences from Paris only 
aggravated the situation produced by the 
hostile attitude of the jury.* Dupre, who 
was always the elder brother in their coun- 
cils, decided therefore that they must show 
themselves in Paris and make a brave ap- 
pearance to attract buyers. So they hired, 
at 2 Place Pigalle, two fine studios, with each 
a suite of rooms attached, on the first floor 
of a building constructed for painters. The 
young militant school gathered there and it 
was there also that Sensier made Rousseau's 
intimate acquaintance. 

Rousseau's finances were, at this time, 
very straitened. Sensier says he had scarcely 
money enough " to keep him in tobacco." 
His art-outlook too was dark. No ama- 
teurs came near him, art dealers scarce 
ventured to hang his paintings in their win- 
dows. The Salon condemnation had borne 
its fruit. Dupre exhibited two of his com- 
rade's canvases in his own atelier and, after 
infinite discussion, disposed of both for six 

* In 1845-6 he was again for a long time at Isle-Adam with 

[ 168 ] 


hundred francs. Sensier, writing in 1871, 
says that 42,000 francs had been offered for 
them. The friends made Millet's acquaint- 
ance, but their poverty seemed luxury to 
poor Millet, and he drew back into his 

The following year, 1847, Rousseau 
became engaged to one whom he loved 
deeply, who was worthy of him and re- 
turned his love. The engagement was 
broken. Sensier will not lift the veil. May 
we read between the lines, Rousseau's pov- 
erty, dark future and sensitive pride? He 
fled to the Forest of Fontainebleau, walking 
incessantly, that in fatigue he might lull 
sorrow to sleep. He hired from a Barbizon 
peasant, for a brief season, a tiny thatched 
cottage at the end of his garden, two rooms 
and a loft, and remained there the rest of 
his life. 

The revolution of 1848 created a short- 
lived republic. One of the first acts of the 
new government was to satisfy the artists. 
A painter, M. Jeanron, was named director 
of the Museum, and in lieu of the old Salon 
and its irresponsible jury, it was resolved to 
accept everything oflfered and to allow the 
entire body of artists to elect a commission 



for hanging and awards. Rousseau did 
not exhibit, but both Dupre and himself 
were named members of the commission. 
Ledru-Rollin, the Minister of the Interior, 
at the suggestion of the new director of the 
Museum and of Charles Blanc, director of 
the Beaux Arts, went in person to the 
studios of Rousseau and Dupre and ordered 
of each a canvas. at four thousand francs, a 
sum then regarded as enormous. This act 
was intended as a public reparation to the 
artists who had been persecuted by the old 

It would be natural to expect that the 
unlucky star which had dominated Rous- 
seau's firmament for twelve years would 
set now and fortune make amends by un- 
usual graciousness. But this was not to 
be. How much his lack of balance, how 
much the survival of the old hostility 
to him, as an innovator in art matters, or 
as one affiliated with Thore and other 
political radicals, contributed to this result, 
it is impossible for us to determine. 

In 1849 Dupre, who had not exhibited, 
received the Cross of the Legion of Honor. 
Rousseau's three pictures were badly hung 
and he was awarded only a first medal. 


BAR! I) A Y b 

for ' Rousseau did 

and himself 



f the 

or of 

11 person to the 

a ana Dupre and ordered 

was, at four thousand francs, , a 

i>um tlien regarded as enormous. This act 

was intended as a public reparation to the 

artists who had beeji persecuted by the old 

v<^^^^^^-m^^^^^^^'^ the 

unlucky star which had dominated Rous- 
seau' " ' ^^ould 

I to 

acK oi uaiaiicc, how 
surviva. ^ ^^ old hostility 
to iniii, as an in >! m art matters, or 

as one '^' vvith Thore and other 

politic; tcais, contributed to this result, 

it "s in ole for us to determine. 

In ib49 JDupre, who had not exhibited, 
received the Cross of the Legion of Honor. 
Rousseau's three picture^ i^^ n^^ l^^j^g 

and he was awarded inedal. 


He said: *^ The simplest iield-flower would 
suit my button-hole better, but I feel my- 
self wronged ; I am not understood/' This 
difference in awards led to an estrangement 
between the two friends, the fault being, so 
far as we can discover, wholly on Rousseau's 
side. Two years later he had a somewhat 
similar experience, Diaz being decorated 
and he remaining without recompense. 
Diaz conducted himself in royal fashion. 
At the official dinner of the artists who had 
received the decoration he rose and, in the 
presence of the heads of the Administra- 
tion, proposed the toast, " To Theodore 
Rousseau, our forgotten master." 

The following year, 1852, brought an 
official reparation. Rousseau had resolved 
not to exhibit and the time for sending in 
canvases was past. The Director of the 
Museums came to his studio in person and 
pleaded with him to be allowed to take 
some of his canvases and hang them on the 
walls of the Salon. Rousseau yielded and 
was at last decorated with the Cross of the 
Legion of Honor. This gave him a stand- 
ing before the public and was the beginninj 
of a brief period of fame and abundance. 

Sensier describes Rousseau in his prime, 

LO-L J_- — 


** He was of middle stature, very vigorous 
and made for walking ; his head was 
olympian and strikingly resembled Skake- 
speare's, his eye kind and fine, his look that 
\of one who fears nothing because there is 
nothing to fear, his hair black and curly, 
his forehead proud in its tranquillity and 

His conception of the relation of Art and 
Nature is well expressed in his reply to 
Guizot. The Due de Broglie had ordered 
of Rousseau a painting of the Chateau de 
Broglie, intending it as a souvenir for his 
friend and colleague in the Ministry, M. 
Guizot. Madame Guizot had died there, 
and Guizot urged Rousseau to make the 
painting grave and sad, and, as far as possi- 
ble, an interpreter of his own feelings. 
Rousseau replied : 

" If my painting depicts faithfully and 
without over-refinement the simple and 
true character of the place you have fre- 
\ quented, if I succeed ... in giving its own 
' life to that world of vegetation, then you 
will hear the trees moaning under the win- 
ter wind, the birds that call their young 
and cry after their dispersion ; you will feel 
the old chateau tremble ; it will tell you 



that, as the wife you loved, it too 
will . . . disappear and be reborn in multi- 
ple forms. If, in fine, I have thrown upon 
my canvas the mighty breath of the crea- 
tion, which engenders to destroy, I shall 
have interpreted your thought. . . . Our art 
is only capable of attaining the pathetic 
you wish to refind in it by the sincerity 
of its portraiture. . . . One does not copy 
with mathematical precision what one 
sees, but one feels and interprets a real 
world, all of whose fatalities hold you fast 

Rousseau desired to be a millionaire, in 
order to devote his entire life to one paint- 
ing. An opportunity, akin to this, was 
provided for him by Frederic Hartmann, 
who ordered and paid for three paintings,* 
allowing Rousseau all the time he wished 
for their execution. He was busied upon 
them during fifteen years. Death alone 
put an end to the travail and permitted the 
purchaser to claim his canvases. 

Sensier says, " They passed through 
phases, now marvellous, now lamentable. 
Millet and I were the only ones permitted 
to catch a glimpse of them. Indeed, at 

* *' The Farm," "The Village Bakery " and "The Village." 



times, he hid himself from us, when the 
work assumed sombre tones and vigorous 
accents. Then there took place on his 
canvases a kind of aerial tragedy, which 
disheartened us. The silhouettes of the trees 
became menacing, the forms of vegetation 
shrivelled, the features of the landscape be- 
came petrified in a dull despair. Rousseau 
seemed to be chastising his work ... in 
return for his long labor of creation, by 
condemning it to the most lugubrious and 
painful metamorphoses. Then on other 
days we saw them reborn, as limpid, joyous 
and scintillating as the mornings of spring- 
time." . . . " ^ The Village ' was one of his 
torments. The day before it was sent to 
the Salon even he worked upon it with a 
fury that disheartened us. In a single day, 
trebly-locked in his studio, he transformed 
the entire sky. He had thrown himself 
with abandon into Japanese art and, domi- 
nated by those beautiful oriental auroras, 
which unite so well, in just balance, the 
softness of dawn and the ardor of the trop- 
ics, he had made for that poor hamlet of 
Picardy, a firmament where Buddha would 
I have chosen his throne of light. . . . Later 
he refashioned it again and turned back to 



our melancholy horizons, to our skies sad 
and gray.^ 

M. Castagnary said of Rousseau: '^He 
does not carry us away, as Fran9ois Millet, 
toward the sorrowing epochs of rustic life, 
to reveal their savage grandeur or gloomy 
solemnity ... he does not transport us as 
Corot, into the lands of twilight, where the 
light, the freshness and the shadow sing an 
aerial melody, whose last notes reach out 
into infinity. No : simple, strong, all im- 
pregnated with naturalism, he respects the 
exact relations of the trees, the animals, man 
and the sky." 

Before turning the last pages in the jour- 
nal of Rousseau's artist career, we must visit 
him in Barbizon in the home which, from 
1848 on, another shared with him. A 
young girl, of humble parentage and poor, 
came to him in Paris in 1848, seeking his 
protection. He sheltered her and she be- 
came his wife. The relation between them 
was a most affectionate one. She was not 
his companion in the higher life, and his 
friends appear to have looked upon her as a 
kind of chattering magpie and a burden on 

* "The Hoar- Frost," a culminating point in his art, wa», on the 
contrary, finished in eight days. 



account of her ill health, yet it is plain that, 
to Rousseau, she was a tenderly loved and 
most tenderly cherished child-wife. Her 
chatter was refreshing song to him, what- 
ever it may have been to his friends. 

Sensier is almost impatient with Rousseau 
for that father and lover spirit, which the 
strong man showed toward this weak singer 
of Beranger's chansons, who had found her 
way into his home ; but he recognizes the 
complete blending at the last of their exist- 
ences. He went to visit them during their 
honeymoon in Saint Martin's in summer. 
"The little house was covered with 
clematis, nasturtiums and cobeas. One felt 
the presence of a woman in that coquetry 
of hermitage.'' Rousseau had found his 
happiness and his old inspiration. He 
spent all his time in the forest and made 
charming studies there. One of these, 
"The Little Hillock of Jean de Paris," 
contains a picture of his wife. The autumn 
wind is moving in the birch trees. A 
young woman, in a blue dress^ is sitting at 
work at the foot of a tree. 

Rousseau's letters to his wife are in 
charming contrast with his usual epistolary 
style. He who is always serious, restrained, 



in contrast to Millet, stiff and cold almost, 
becomes free, glad and merry to joviality. 
His letters for the first time sing ; not a 
grand epic strain as Millet's, or a ballad of 
nature as Corot's, but a light chanson, such 
as those his wife was wont to repeat. 

'' Thou must get good round cheeks, for 
otherwise I shall use them all up for thee 
at once. ... I think of thee every moment, 
savoring beforehand all the pleasures I shall 
have in leaving the train, from seeing thy 
dear face calling me with thine eyes. It's 
idle to say that the absent are at fault ; it is 
not true when one loves them from the 
bottom of one's heart. See, thou art be- 
coming apotheosized for me, thou gainest 
every day, thou hast never had a fault, thou 
hast never tormented me, not even on thea- 
tre days. . . . Thou art, in fine, such that I 
only need thy presence to be happy all the 
days of my life. . . . Au revoir, my darling 
little one ... I embrace thee as I love 
thee. My father. Millet, Sensier, Daumier, 
embrace thee; the whole family, le bon 
DieUy et le Diable^ embrace thee. ... P. S. 
As for the pheasant, I hear a gun-shot, that 
must be the Pere Baudouin,* who is making 

* A neighbor who had promised Rousseau a pheasant for his wife. 



his first essay. Patience, patience then, and 
enjoy a foretaste of it. Latest News : The 
pheasant is still living, but they talk about 
bringing a stuffed one from Paris. ..." 

The fat years had begun for Rousseau. 
His thatched roof was changed for one of 
tiles, he bought rare bits of old faience from 
the peasants and picked up etchings of 
Rembrandt, Ostade and Claude Lorrain. 
** At this time the home of Rousseau was a 
little hospitable centre, full of attentions 
and charms ; the friend arrived there with- 
out other announcement than his presence. 
Rousseau received him with that smile and 
that child's glance which signified, ^ I ex- 
pected you.' We talked painting, Paris, 
literature, we hailed Millet, who was 
working, still unknown but courageous in 
his country atelier^ we passed comments upon 
the masters, the setting sun, the light and 
the longevity of man. The months were 
years, to-day they are only days." 

A culminating point came with the Uni- 
versal Exposition of 1855. Rousseau ex- 
hibited thirteen paintings and won a deci- 
sive victory, due however rather to the 
appreciation of Americans than to that of 
his own countrymen. Millet had sent but 



one canvas, " The Grafter." Rousseau was 
enthusiastic about it. One day Sensier was 
amazed to learn from Rousseau that he had 
sold Millet's canvas to an American for four 
thousand francs. Sensier was beside him- 
self to discover who this extraordinary in- 
dividual was who was willing to pay four 
thousand francs for a canvas which would 
not have brought one thousand in Paris or 
in all Europe. ^^But consider," he said, 
" Rousseau, that astonishing man has been 
enlightened, as St. Paul on his road to 
Damascus. What a rare organization that 
of a being, new and without education, who 
arrives from his deserts and feels himself all 
at once drawn toward an expression so 
simple ! Don't you see, we need not 
despair of anything ? " " Ah, well ! my 
friend, to-morrow he will come to see me, 
come, don't fail." "The next day I arrived 
at the house and, extending his hand, Rous- 
seau said in a low voice : ^ Well, here he 
is, he is here. Yes, it is I, since you will 
know it. But swear to me that you will 
say nothing about it. I want Millet to 
believe in the American, that will encourage 
him and that will make us both more free, 
for I wish to purchase other pictures from 



him/" Those were glad days in the vine- 
covered cottage. Rousseau, delighted by 
his unexpected good fortune, loved to gather 
his comrades about his long poplar table in 
the loft atelier under the tile roof. ** Diaz 
excited the hearty laughter of Rousseau by 
his caprices, as unexpected as the humorous 
explosions of Goya ; Daumier was in the 
mood of Rabelais; Barye sparkled with 
sarcasm and biting tales about pedants and 
prudhommes ; Millet thought no more of 
his wretchedness and talked about his Nor- 
man country and his family souvenirs.'* 

But with 1857 ^^ clouds gathered again. 
The Salons were not favorable, unfriendly 
criticism became keen once more, appar- 
ently not altogether without reason, for, to 
judge/ from Sensier's account, Rousseau was 
painting rather mechanically and work that 
would sell. His biographer tells also a 
strange story of the venomous pursuit of a 
Belgian picture dealer, who bought up 
Rousseau's pictures at a high price and then 
auctioned them off at a low one so as to 
make Rousseau's rating low ! 

Fortune did not smile on Rousseau again 
until 1865. During these years he was 
compelled to sell at auction his little col- 



lection of bric-a-brac, was burdened with 
debt and constrained on that account to re- 
visit Paris every month, for a time every 
fortnight, so as to be at his legal domicile 
to meet his creditors. His wife's health 
failed from nervous weakness — she was pass- 
ing into hysteria. 

In 1863 he had made a second visit to 
la Faucille, thirty years after the first. As 
before, he sat facing Mont Blanc. What 
memories of old ambitions and youthful 
dreams must have returned ! The rain fell 
upon him in torrents, but he would not 
move. An inflammation of the lungs re- 
sulted therefrom, which was almost fatal 
and from which he seems to have never en- 
tirely rallied. His friends became anxious 
about him and plotted for his relief. One 
of them assumed, as he supposed, all his 
debts, but unfortunately Rousseau had not 
made a full confession. A retreat was pro- 
vided for his wife and the day of her re- 
moval set. But, at the moment of de- 
parture, Rousseau withdrew his consent. 
" Ah, my dear friend," he said to Sensier, 
" when I think that I shall dry up the 
source of so many treasures of tenderness, in 
separating myself from her, from her who 



is but a spoiled child, I feel that I am very 
unjust to procure my repose at the expense 
of her heart." He remained steadfast in 
his refusal to the last hour of his life. 

Rousseau's fortunes, ill and good, had all 
his life through much of the unexpected 
about them. So it was in 1865. The 
Count, Paul DemidofF, ordered two wall 
panels of Rousseau at ten thousand francs 
each. Similar orders had been given to 
Corot, Dupre and Fromentin. While Rous- 
seau was at work upon this commission two 
young picture dealers offered him one hun- 
dred thousand francs for sixty canvases, all 
the old studies of his youth, and forty thou- 
sand francs additional for other work un- 
finished. In 1866 he was invited to the 
Emperor's court at Compiegne, and in 1 867, 
at the Universal Exposition, was elected 
President of the International Jury, received 
one of the eight grand medals of honor,* 
sold paintings for two hundred thousand 
francs and gratified his love for the works 
of the old masters to the extent of buying 
thirty thousand francs' worth of engravings 
at one sale. Three Expositions were opened 

* Four for France — Cabanel, Gerome, Meissonier, Rousseau. 
Four for other countries — Kaulbach, Knaus, Leys, Ussi. 

[ 182 ] 

Landscape %uith Animals 


ailed ch'' ' iiiat 1 am very 

the expense 
oi n eadfast in 


>, 111 aiiu good, had all 

uugn much of the unexpected 

Liicm. So it was in 1865, The 

c :unt, Paul DemidofF, ordered two wall 

panels of Rousseau at ten thousand francs 

a ch. Similar orders had been given to 

Corot, Dupre and Fromentin. While Rous- 

lu was at work upon this commission two 

young picture dealers offered him one hun- 

' ' ' ' £i%sm^^Ms^^mlm^s, all 

"^rty thou- 

rk un- 


ill 1867, 

- i, was elected 

Jury, received 
id aieaals of honor,* 
sui two hiindred thousand 

fra atined his love for the works 

of tne 01a masters to the extent of buying 
thirty thousand francs' worth of engravings 
ine sale. Three Exposition -e opened 

rome, Rousseau. 

'unirieb — Kaulbach, Knaus, 

^\Em*:inK M\uy '^qB.'^^ni^l 


simultaneously, the Universal, that of the an- 
nual Salon, and a third at the Cercle des Arts. 
Rousseau was represented by a hundred and 
twenty-four works. His triumph was 
grand and complete. Hostile criticism was 

But that same malevolent influence that 
had dogged his steps hitherto dropped into 
his brimming cup that which made its 
every drop bitter. His comrades of the 
jury and his fellow medallists were all made 
officers of the Legion of Honor, he, the 
President of the Jury, was excepted.^ It 
was the coup de grdce ; the tension had been 
too great since 1836; paralysis came upon 
him, he lingered, moved dying about his 
garden, followed by his hysterical wife. 
Millet was constant in his devotion. The 
end came December 22nd, 1867, "the 
grand harmony '' following upon the trag- 
edy of his life.-j- 

* His French comrades of the Jury were Gerome, Pils, Frangais 
and Corot. He was made Officer of the Legion of Honor before 
his death. 

t Two days before his death he said, expecting to recover : 
" There will be a crisis and thereafter the grand harmony will come." 


^r^^E ^^\5o3u ^mo^nK 




no^\d*\&3. ^^ ^^uoYl ^S^&SL 

B A R Y E 


Antoine Louis Barye was born in 
Paris September 15th, 1796. His father 
was a goldsmith. His family preserved as 
souvenirs of his earliest childhood figures of 
animals that he had cut out of paper, and 
said that he used to mix pounded brick 
with water and paint therewith designs 
upon the wall. He was not sent to any 
lycSe^ but at thirteen apprenticed to Fourrier, 
an engraver in metals. Fourrier was charged 
with furnishing the metallic portions of 
the military equipments, the helmets, gor- 
gets, eagles and crosses of honor. The 
repous sS wor\i for the gold snuff-boxes which 
Napoleon I. was in the habit of presenting to 
his brother sovereigns was also executed there. 
Yoiing Barye was employed in the prepara- 
tion of the molds and dies for all classes of 
work, from the buttons of the uniforms to 
the finest products of the goldsmith's art. 

The conscription of 181 2 took him at 
sixteen away from the workshop, but for- 
tunately his training for his later career was 
not thereby altogether interrupted. He 
was attached at first to the topographical 



brigade of the engineering corps and soon 
after incorporated in a battalion of sappers. 
He told Sylvestre that he " worked night 
and day on reliefs of Mont Cenis, Cher- 
bourg and Coblentz, which are probably 
still preserved in the archives of the War 
Department/' March 30th, 18 14, as he 
was returning wearied from a long walk 
across the fields of Montrouge, the porter 
of the military depot called out to him 
through the wicket : " The army has left ; 
go with all speed to rejoin it on the banks 
of the Loire." Montrouge is at the gates 
of Paris. Barye was penniless and thus un- 
able to follow the army in its retreat. So 
he returned to his father's house. 

The capitulation of Paris freed him from 
military service, and he resumed his work 
as engraver, but he said : *^ I was tormented 
by my vocation for statuary. I applied 
myself with infinite zeal to drawing and 
modeling, but, as I was not one to stir 
about, I neither knew how to find a master 
nor how to arrange matters so as to live as 
student." He solved the problem by mak- 
ing his handicraft supply the wherewithal 
for his studies and entered in December, 
1 8 16, the studio of Bosio. Bosio was a 


B A R Y E 

conventional worker of the old school, 
without originality or strength. The eques- 
trian statue of Louis XIV. of the Place des 
Victoires, and the four-horse chariot of the 
Arc du Carrousel, show his incapacity for 
monumental work. He was not, however, 
without a certain fine feeling in his treat- 
ment of the nude, as the *^ Hyacinthe '' of the 
Louvre Galleries shows. Barye had come 
to his studio in order to learn the rudiments 
of the sculptor's art, and to this extent only 
is he probably Bosio's debtor. 

Three months later, in March, 1817, he 
entered the studio of the painter Gros, 
and apparently for a time frequented both 
studios. Gros was a pupil of David, and 
the author of several large canvases now in 
the Louvre. Barye's biographers agree in 
attributing to Gros more influence over him 
than Bosio exercised. Gros was an en- 
thusiast, full of energy and a strong worker. 
Arsene Alexandre says of him : " Classicist 
by conviction, the first of the romanticists 
by temperament, he exercised the same in- 
fluence over all the great painters who went 
forth from his hands. They observed what 
he did and listened as little as possible to 
what he said.*' 



Guillaume says: ^^Barye appeared in the 
midst of a passion of renewal which began 
to seize upon the French school. The study 
of history and the knowledge of foreign 
literatures were enlarging the field of inspi- 
ration. With several artists this romanti- 
cism was signalled by a return to nature 
and science. Gericault may be considered 
an example. His anatomical designs have 
remained celebrated. He modelled. While 
painting the shipwreck of the Meduse he 
surrounded himself often with corpses.'' 
The 2nd of July, 1816, the Meduse was 
wrecked forty leagues off the western coast 
of Africa. A hundred and forty-nine per- 
sons took refuge upon a raft. Twelve days 
later the brig Argus rescued the survivors, 
fifteen in number, when at the point of 
death ; the rest had been claimed by the sea, 
or devoured by their companions. Gericault 
represents the raft at the moment when the 
brig heaves in sight. It is covered with 
livid, distorted figures, dead and dying. 
The canvas, exhibited in 18 19 when Barye 
was twenty-three, made an epoch. Geri- 
cault's work is considered to have exercised 
a sensible influence upon Barye. 

In the year 1819 Barye presented him- 

[ ^90 ] 

B A R Y E 

self for the first time in a concours for 
medals at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The 
subject was a medallion, " Milo of Crotona 
Devoured by a Lion." He received the 
third prize. Opinions differ with regard to 
the merit of this first published work of 
Barye ; some, as Gustave Planche, discover- 
ing therein the promise of all his future 
powers, others seeing no such revelation. 
The question is of slight importance. 
Barye's schooling is far from finished yet ; 
his creative career, in the monumental 
sense, still distant. The following year, 
1820, he entered the competition for sculp- 
ture, winning the second prize. The theme 
was " Cain Cursed by God after the Death 
of Abel." For four successive years he con- 
tinued to compete, but unsuccessfully. In 
1823 no prize was awarded, the exhibits 
being considered below the grade demanded. 
In 1824 Barye's work was not even 

Already, since the preceding year, Barye 
had been in the employ of the goldsmith, 
Fauconnier, of the Rue du Bac, and he now 
abandoned the Beaux Arts entirely and re- 
turned to his craft. Fauconnier was pur- 
veyor by appointment to the Duchesse de 



Berry.* Here Barye remained eight years, 
or until 1831, and here it was that, under 
his own direction, he gained his art 
education. He was married at the time 
and two daughters were born to him. Be- 
yond this, and that wife and daughters died, 
that he married again and had in his second 
marriage a family of eight children, we 
know almost nothing of Barye's private life. 
He was by nature and resolution taciturn, 
and his life, in contradistinction to that of 
his brother artists of Barbizon, has for us 
only the art side. But that is so grand in 
its steel-like tenacity of purpose, so splendid 
in its steadfast growth, that we need no 
opening of the home doors in order to know 
and be inspired by the man Barye. 

While Barye was still at the Beaux Arts, 
he studied the Egyptian sculpture which 
Champollion was arranging in the Louvre. 
He learned much therefrom and more 
probably from the Assyrian sculptures, dis- 
covered and brought to France a score of 
years later. To the Greco-Roman collec- 
tions of the Louvre he was also, and in a 
large degree, debtor. But Barye gathered 
information, as the trees absorb the ele- 

* The Due de Berry was the second son of Charles X, 
[ 192 ] 

B A R Y E 

ments essential to their growth and fruit 

Nothing was neglected by him during 
these years of discipline that could contribute 
to the development of his talent. He had 
no theories to advance in the wars of the 
schools ; he was not militant, not even a 
talker, but he had determined where and 
how to pursue his studies. Though no 
biographer quotes a sententious declaration 
of his dating from this period to the effect 
that Nature is the first and last teacher to be 
consulted by one who would represent life, 
such was clearly his resolute, quiet decision 
as to himself and his studies henceforth. He 
drew from the human model in Suisse's 
atelier^ he familiarized himself in the am- 
phitheatre, and through dissection with the 
physical structure of men and animals; he 
informed himself thoroughly about the best 
methods of melting and casting metals; he 
made himself an expert in every branch of 
his craft ; he copied in the Louvre the works 
of the masters. 

The Jardin des Plantes was, however, his 
great studio, not merely at this time, but 
thenceforward throughout his life. Many 
changes in the line of growth and expansion 



have come doubtless since Barye first began 
his assiduous visits there seventy years ago, 
but the general features are the same. The 
Jardin des Plantes is not merely a menag- 
erie and herbarium, but contains also a series 
of museums illustrating all the different de- 
partments of natural history, with library, 
laboratories and lecture rooms, wherein to 
work' over scientifically the material col- 
lected, and train students in the branches 
of knowledge there represented. In the 
Garden the different animals are to be seen 
living, moving behind the bars of their 
cages ; in the Museum of Zoology you will 
find them stuffed ; in the Museum of Com- 
parative Anatomy, founded by Georges 
Cuvier, you can study their skeletons as 
connected wholes, all the bones of their 
structures separately and, in many cases, 
casts, representing their bodies in various 
stages of dissection. This was the day of 
the Cuviers. Frederic, the younger of the 
two brothers, had been named curator of 
the menagerie in 1 804. 

Barye made constant use of every facility 
of instruction afforded by the Garden, the 
Museums of Natural History, the Menagerie 
and the galleries of Comparative Anatomy. 


.■f^^'^f ■»• 



"^ ~< 

v/^ rx '-^ VC 


. .. -JJr^ 


.- ■ . i 

/i '■ 

«5^ «5. K ; ^ v^ ^^ "^ vj V 

jh^- i .i _ 

e studi ,,^,l,^ 

)on history and mytholog 
at he had already in mind the repre- 
itation in statuary of heroic and mytho- 
gical incidents. He attended the courses 
of lectures. When an animal died he was 
o^ce notj -neer from the 

garden and, nc^ in hcnd, 

hastened thit ^j 

sometin animal " he 

after dissf(t ion 

The vsseau, wh .he keeper 

^ '^ nimals, had hecome his 

^vAfeSl^^H^o^-efe. lo him at 

the menagerie and, when he sa 
from his pocket a few poor crusts 

id, he handed to him some fine slices 
tender bread taken from thp rl.iJW 

ons of the bear^ i 

ng n 

to n Barji 


A Study — Barye 

B A R Y E 

He studied BufFon, Cuvier, and works 
upon history and mythology. It is clear 
that he had already in mind the repre- 
sentation in statuary of heroic and mytho- 
logical incidents. He attended the courses 
of lectures. When an animal died he was 
at once notified by a messenger from the 
garden and, dropping everything in hand, 
hastened thither. He measured, drew and 
sometimes modelled the animal before or 
after dissection. 

The Pere Rousseau, who was the keeper 
of the ferocious animals, had become his 
especial friend. "He opened to him at 
five o'clock every morning the doors of 
the menagerie and, when he saw him draw 
from his pocket a few poor crusts of hard 
bread, he handed to him some fine slices 
of tender bread taken from the daily 
rations of the bears." Pere Rousseau lived 
ong enough to see his protege become 
'amous, and he loved to talk to the young 
irtists who visited the Garden about the in- 
iefatigable ardor "of that thin and tall 
^oung man, always silent, who first found 
-he beasts of Pere Rousseau worthy of being 
eproduced." He it was who sent a mes- 
enger to notify Barye whenever an animal 



died. The two glories of his life were 
** that he had formed Barye and that he had 
conducted the Emperor Alexander in 1815 
about the menagerie/' 

In sum, Barye, having seen others pre- 
ferred to himself and his own work con- 
demned at the Beaux Arts, resolved to 
equip himself for the career to which am- 
bition and a steadfast will held him, by 
acquiring a comprehensive and accurate i 
knowledge of the higher organized beings, 
living and dead, and at the same time to> 
train eye and hand in the workshop until 
he had become a master in every detail of ; 
his craft, the practical working of the? 
metals. Furthermore, the great artists of 
old must yield to him the secrets of theiri 
power and inspire him to work, which^ 
would earn for him also the rank of master. 

His work for Fauconnier passed of course( 
under the master's name. We know that 
he was asked to make a stag for a soup 
tureen and, after studies in the Jardin des 
Plantes, executed the order. The clients 
were not satisfied, it was " too much like 
nature, not noble enough.'' The official 
report of the Exposition in 1825 states: 
" We owe to M. Fauconnier a collection of 


ii A R Y E 

od models for the ir 
animalG." It is not unfair to the 
find therein a recognition of his en 


After four years spent in such studies 
Barye m Salon exhibit in 

1827, ^^ ining of his en 

^eer did owever, R ^ i , 

when ' He n 


^^ which wa^^ 

life Si 

reputation and of his arti 

criticism of the day shows the sui 

enthusiasm which the work created. Ch 


5ch ishec 

^^^ liberty and the ser 

3f i. 

illy. I 


■t acri 

, despit. 

ecognize hm 

B A R Y E 

good models for the imitation of divers 
animals." It is not unfair to the master to 
find therein a recognition of his employe's 

After four years spent in such studies 
Barye made his first Salon exhibit in 
1827. The true beginning of his creative 
career did not come, however, until 1831, 
when he was thirty-five. He made then 
exhibits both in painting and sculpture. 
Two of the three works in sculpture at- 
tracted general attention, a '^ Martyrdom of 
St-Sebastien '' and a ^^ Tiger Devouring a 
Crocodile." The last, which was one-half 
life size, was the corner-stone of Barye's 
reputation and of his artistic career. The 
criticism of the day shows the surprise and 
enthusiasm which the work created. Charles 
Blanc says that '' the young (romantic) 
school was astonished and delighted by the 
accent of truth, liberty and the sentiment 
of life therein. For centuries ferocious 
animals had only been treated convention- 
ally. The idea of studying them at the 
menagerie had never occurred to anyone." 
The academic school, then in entire con- 
trol, despite its prejudices, was constrained 
to recognize him and awarded him a medal 

[ 197 ] 


of the second class. He received also an 
order for a bust of Louis Philippe. 

The St-Sebastien model, given into the 
charge of the administration of the Louvre 
(Barye having no suitable place for it), has 
disappeared, broken doubtless and carried 
away bit by bit, but the *^Tiger '' was cast in 
bronze and in 1848 purchased by the state. 
It is to-day in the Louvre galleries. The 
chief interest of this group is from the com- 
parative side. It shows the point of de- 
parture of Barye's creative life. It is strong, 
as all of his work, but it lacks the grandeur 
and the poise of his masterpieces. The 
posture is one of tense repose. The great 
cat is crouched upon all fours. The tenta- 
cles of his muscular fore-paws hold the vic- 
tim as in a vice. He is looking down upon 
the writhing amphibian. In another mo- 
ment he will crunch the life out of his feeble 
prey and gorge himself with the dark blood 
and the palpitating flesh. The crocodile is 
an image of weakness in the fast clutch of 
pitiless strength. 

And yet the sculptor has not attained the 
freedom and breadth of his maturity. The 
hairs even are indicated. The body does jf 
not slip forward with that tense and tre- 



mendous muscularity, that feline ductility, 
which the living tiger of the Jardin des 
Plantes, surlily pacing back and forth in his 
narrow cage, and Barye's jaguar of 1851, 
show. Had Barye created only this tiger 
and the other masterpieces, which represent 
this stage in his development, he would 
scarcely have won a secure immortality. 
He had broken a path, pointed out a 
new field, astonished and surpassed his 
age ; yet the calm breadth of execution, the 
majesty and dignity of immortal works, 
of his own later creations, are lacking. But 
Barye never rested, never slackened his 
efforts to assure and broaden the foundations 
of his art through the study of nature and 
of the masters, to give suppleness to his 
hand, exactness to his eye, by constant exer- 
cise and observation. His talent shall soar 
upward, but on strong, even pinions ; knowl- 
edge shall balance and guide enthusiasm. 
His life from 1 8 3 1 forward is therefore as 
the slow, steadfast ascension of a star, 

Charles Blanc says that the life of an 
artist when Barye's career began was not 
what it is to-day. The world sought them, 
not they the world. Their social life was 
passed in the artist reunions at the cafes and 



restaurants. Such a gathering-place of artists 
and men of letters had been established at 
the Barriere du Maine at the Mere Saguet- 
Bourdon's. Barye and Sainte-Beuve were 
among the first admitted to this circle. 
The artist Charlet and Alexandre Dumas 
were also among the comrades. Beranger 
came sometimes. Here the grand battle 
for the triumph of Victor Hugo in Her- 
nani was prepared.* 

There was no Salon in 1832, the cholera 
preventing it, but in 1833 Barye exhibited 
six water colors representing animals, a 
frame containing medallions, a bust of the 
Duke of Orleans, and ten other works of 
sculpture, the most notable of which was 
the **Lion and Serpent.'' Barye had left the 
shop of Fauconnier in 1 8 3 1 and begun his 
independent career. All his leisure since 
the exposition of the "Tiger" in that year had 
been spent in the Jardin des Plantes. This 
exposition showed the results. 

The effect produced by the "Lion and 
Serpent" was greater even than that caused 
by the "Tiger." The celebrated critic, Gus- 
tave Blanche, who appreciated from the 

* The first representation of Hernani, the 21st of February, 1830, 
provoked in the parterre a veritable conflict between the Classicists 
and Romanticists. 

[ 200 ] 

B A R Y E 

outset Barye's powers and gave him in his 
criticisms helpful counsels, says : '' The 
*Lion' created a general cry of astonishment 
among the partisans of academic sculpture. 
Very soon the astonishment gave place to 
anger, for the public, despite the remon- 
strances which the professors and all who 
swore by their maxims addressed to it, ob- 
stinately persisted in praising Barye as an 
artist as happy as he was skilful." Barye 
was decorated with the Legion of Honor ; 
the "Lion'' was purchased by the State and 
placed in the Garden of the Tuileries. The 
group is there to-day. It shows an advance 
upon the " Tiger '' of 1 8 3 1 , yet it belongs to 
the same epoch in his development. 

We have styled the lion the king of the 
beasts. Looking upon him as personifying 
in a supreme degree the nobility and 
strength of the brute creation, we have 
made of this king of the wilds an imper- 
sonation of that brute force which alone is 
worthy to serve the highest types of man- 
hood or humanity in those employs which 
are the most heroic. We have harnessed 
him to our chariots of victory, we have 
placed him as guard at the portals of our 
temples and palaces, we have installed him 



as watch by the tombs of our heroes, we 
have made him the prop of the thrones of 
our kings. But the Hon, as a grand, splen- 
did, savage life, finding its beginning and end 
in self, we had not studied, scarce con- 
ceived, until Barye came. 

The type of the conventional lion is 
a familiar one. His body is limp, without 
bone, muscle or nerve; his face elonga- 
ted, venerable, stupid; his eye dull, opaque; 
his mane falls in long, heavy curls, strik- 
ingly resembling, as Theophile Gautier 
suggests, the wigs of Louis XIV.'s time; 
his paw rests upon a ball. He could not 
harm, to roar were impossible. It is 
doubtful whether the granite has not in its 
pores blood enough for that torpid exist- 
ence. With this image fresh in our minds 
— a pair of these nondescripts face the Place 
de la Concorde, one at either side of the 
Tuileries Garden — let us go and stand 
before Barye's group. The kinship is ap- 
parent in the elongated face, in the form 
and in details, but Nature is shaking off 
conventionality. What savagery in that ex- 
pression, what truth in that attitude ! How 
marvelous that relaxed right paw, whose 
keen claws have cut through the serpent's 

[ 202 ] 

B A R Y F 

oil, relaxed th 

lutch may be fast, mortal ! jH 
tive of the loathing of the nobler i 
his involuntary shrinking from the i 
serpent, that head lowered and turned asi 
That lion li If you wait 1 

enougl ' y\ of 

the wilds t^ 

it is, h nobler, of the tamii 

tiger c Ther le s^ 




ache §aid: ** I^dK^IUref 
/itlH^ ' '"^M 
animal multitude 

pettily reproduced. Less liter 
the sculpture of M. Barye would be 
more beautiful; it would be less re^ 
more true; it wc 
it Id lose in puerile 

de whe 


Where iound 

g such J 



B A R Y E 

coil, relaxed that in another instant the 
clutch may be fast, mortal ! How sugges- 
tive of the loathing of the nobler brute, of 
his involuntary shrinking from the fanged 
serpent, that head lowered and turned aside ! 
That lion lives and, if you wait long 
enough, you will hear the deep growl of 
the wilds escape its opened jaws. And yet 
it is, though nobler, of the family of the 
tiger of 1 831. There is the same care in 
details, the same lack of breadth, grandeur, 
calm strength. 

Gustave Planche said : ^^ I shall reproach 
M. Barye with suffocating the life of his 
animals under a multitude of details too 
pettily reproduced. Less literally exact, 
the sculpture of M. Barye would be grander, 
more beautiful; it would be less real, but 
more true ; it would gain in elevation what 
it would lose in puerile fidelity." Alfred 
de Musset wrote, when the group had 
been cast in bronze in 1836: ^^The 
bronze lion of M. Barye is as terrifying as 
Nature. What vigor and what truth ! . . . 
Where indeed has he found a way of mak- 
ing such models pose ? Is his atelier a desert 
of Africa or a forest of Hindustan?'" 
Charles Lenormant said: '^The more I saw 

[ 203 ] 


that combat of the lion and the serpent, the 
more the impression grew ; it seemed to me 
at first the lion moved, yesterday I heard it 

Theophile Gautier declares that the old 
conventional lions scattered about the public 
gardens almost let go of the balls, ^^w^hich 
keep them in countenance,'' w^hen they saw 
Barye's lion. When the State had purchased 
the group and placed it in the Tuileries 
Garden, one of the academicians exclaimed : 
" Since when were the Tuileries a me- 
nagerie ? " 

Despite the opposition which the novelty 
of Barye's work and its success with the 
public had provoked in the academic camp, 
the promise of the future was rich indeed, 
He was but thirty-seven. The academic 
jury even, as we have seen, had been com- 
pelled to recognize him. The royal family 
were his patrons. Roger Ballu, in his biog- 
raphy, gives an engraving of him as he ap- 
peared at this time and accompanies it with] 
a word painting: ^^The head slightly bent,| 
the eyes large, dreamy, intelligent, lively, 
not flashing, but wide open and reflecting aj 
certain melancholy, give to the face the ex- 
pression of a man who examines, observes,] 

[ 204 ] 

B A R Y E 

meditates, scrutinizes, then resolves, and has 
the energy of his decision/' We read in 
the face strength, a mind alert, questioning, 
almost suspicious. 

The Due d'Orleans, Louis Philippe's eld- 
est son, ordered of him a massive table- 
piece, in gold and silver, which v^as at first 
intended to be of reasonable dimensions and 
wholly the work of Barye. But M. Aime 
Chenavard succeeded in intruding his per- 
sonality through Barye, in his good-nature 
and his desire to be helpful, permitting his 
own work to be surrounded by a certain 
amount of architectural work of this artist. 
The final result was that M. Chenavard as- 
sumed the direction of the whole. If it 
had been completed according to his de- 
signs, it would have weighed nine thousand 
kilogrammes. When the first piece of the 
structure was brought, it was discovered 
that the table would not support it. This 
was a trivial thing. M. Chenavard ordered 
forthwith a new oak table of the proper 
solidity. Unfortunately he had not taken 
the measures of the dining-room. When 
the table was placed therein, no space was 
left for the chairs. Another triviality for a 
man of M. Chenavard's devices ! He pro- 

I 20S ] 


posed to push back the walls of the Tuiler- 
ies, but the architect, out of patience with 
this jesting, interfered, and M. Chenavard, 
disappointed in his dream of adding per- 
haps a new wonder to the seven, died 
broken-hearted. Though M. Chenavard 
had a successor, the table-piece was never 
finished. Barye's work would have em- 
braced nine groups. He was busy upon 
them for many years. They were not 
ready in 1848, the year of the Revolution 
which expelled Louis Philippe and his fam- 
ily from France. In 1863, they were sold 
in fragments at the sale of the property of 
the widowed Duchesse d'Orleans. The 
five principal groups represent five grand 
hunts, of the tiger, the bull, the lion, the 
elk and the bear ; the four minor groups, 
combats of animals. 

The years that followed until 1837 were 
busy and prosperous ones for Barye. He 
was at work upon the order of the Due d'- 
Orleans ; the Due de Nemours, Louis Phi- 
lippe's second son, the Due d'Orleans as 
well, and the Due de Luynes were among 
the purchasers of his bronzes. Only a few 
new works were exhibited at the Salons, as 
his strength was given almost entirely to^ 


B A R Y E 

the execution of the table-piece. There 
was question at this time of charging Barye 
with the execution of a monumental work 
of supreme grandeur, Thiers was minister 
from 1832 to 1836, and eager to commem- 
orate in stone, in some surpassing way, the 
Napoleonic glories. He seems to have had 
a great diversity of ideas as to the method, 
and to have been carelessly generous with 
promises to artists, which were not fulfilled. 
The matter is unclear ; but we know that 
during these years the most inspiring pros- 
pects were held out to Barye ; now it was 
the decoration of the entire Place de la Coa- 
corde, now of the four corners of the bridge. 
The plan which assumed the most definite 
form, was that of crowning the Arc de 
Triomphe with some grand work in statuary. 
Which of the two, Barye or Thiers, first 
suggested the imperial eagle is uncertain. 
Charles Blanc says it was Barye's idea. The 
plan, if carried out, would have given an 
eagle, with seventy feet span of wings, de- 
scending upon the arch, and while still half 
supported by the air clutching in its talons 
trophies symbolizing the cities and nations 
curbed or crushed by the genius of Na- 

[ 207 ] 


Nothing came of all this, but in 1835 
the State asked of him a Sainte-Clotilde for 
the Madeleine. The story goes that Barye 
wished to chisel a saint bearing his wife's 
name, but this grace was not given him. 
This opens for an instant the fast closed 
door of that home and shows us that love 
reigned there. The Madeleine figure, strong, 
pure, noble, is not unworthy of Barye, but 
as one looks from the Place de la Concorde 
up that sloping way of the Champs-Elysees, 
unique in the world, and sees the triumphal 
arch at the end, standing forth symmetrical, 
beautiful against the sky, one can but 
regret that France did not give to him, as 
Athens to her great sons, work worthy of 
his genius. 

The jury of thirty -six, that struck Rous- 
seau and limited his talent and thus the 
glory that France would have won there- 
from, had spared Barye. But he did not 
look for a continuance of such consideration 
from men who had closed the doors of the 
Salon to Delacroix and Rousseau. He was 
not therefore disposed to exhibit as yet the 
parts of the table-piece, several of which 
were ready. But the Duke of Orleans in- 
sisted, saying, ^^ I will take charge of it.'' 


B A R Y E 

The bronzes were refused. The duke, in- 
dignant, asked the king to interfere, but 
Louis Philippe answered: *^What do you 
wish ? I have created a jury, I cannot 
force it to accept chefs-d'oeuvreT Jules 
Dupre, meeting Barye, asked him how his 
work prospered. " It is going very well ; 
I am refused," answered Barye. Dupre was 
indignant. "It is altogether natural," said 
Barye, " I have too many friends on the jury." 
This action of the jury, when compared 
with that of the preceding year, seems to 
indicate the purpose of serving a sharp 
notice upon the young school that the 
old canons of art could not be violated 
with impunity, and the approval of the 
public did not carry with it the commenda- 
tion of experts in art matters. The reasons 
alleged, that the groups of the table-piece 
did not belong to the domain of sculpture 
but to industrial art, and that they were, 
furthermore, genre works, seem rather props 
to support a weak cause. Barye inter- 
preted the action in the sense of an order 
to submit, or cease to compete, and withdrew 
altogether from the Salon until the old jury 
had been swept away with the monarchy. 
He did not exhibit again until 1851, 

[ 209 ] 



The year 1837 marks thus in Barye's life, 
as the preceding year had in Rousseau's, an 
epoch. As Rousseau turned from his earher 
limitless ambition, to be the interpreter of 
Nature in her grandest manifestations, to the 
trees of the forest of Fontainebleau and was 
content to express their speech in ^^ that 
other language, painting;'' so Barye turned 
largely away from monumental art, in the 
grand sense, to the creation in bronze of 
those charming little animals, which were 
called by his contemporaries, half in pity, 
half in scorn, paper-weights. 

The royal family continued to support 
him. The Due de Nemours and the Due 
de Luynes desired also to have table-pieces 
from Barye's hand. The Due de Montpen- 
sier, fifth son of Louis Philippe, ordered a 
chimney-piece. Only one of these works, 
the last, was executed, and the principal 
group, intended to be placed above the 
clock and representing "Angelica delivered 
by Roger," a theme from the Orlando 
Furioso, is greatly admired. 

During the years prior to 1840, he re- 
ceived and executed a commission to fur- 
nish certain portions of the Bastille column. 
The lion that is walking about the base of ; 


B A R Y E 

the column, and the cocks at each of the 
four corners of the pedestal, are Barye's 
work. The Bastille was captured by the 
Parisians and torn down July 14th, 1789. 

The lion is the zodiacal sign of the 
month of July. This "Lion of the Bastille'' 
is another mile-stone in the onward march 
of the great sculptor. The details that 
weaken the lion of 1833 have disap- 
peared : the head is nobler ; the artist is 
working with greater freedom and breadth; 
one step more and he will attain the majesty 
of the highest art. The lion is pacing with 
slow measured steps about the base of the 
pillar erected in memory of the brave, 
breathing low growls as he goes. Charles 
Blanc says of this lion: "It is the image 
of the people guarding their dead.'' 

Barye the artist answered the action of the 
Jury of 1 837 by making himself a manufac- 
turer, hiring skilled workmen, watching 
strenuously over every detail of the fabrica- 
tion of his art bronzes and selling them him- 
self. These bronzes embrace not merely a 
Lilliputian menagerie, and a series of statu- 
ettes, but also candelabras, perfume burners, 
fenders, candlesticks, cups, even inkstands. 
Shall we regret or rejoice that the great 



artist was constrained to make his art sub- 
serve the needs of the multitude ? Despite 
all our admiration for these Lilliputians and 
our personal satisfaction that a cat or rabbit, 
a lion or tiger, may serve us as a paper-weight, 
when we stand before one of Barye's sublime 
creations, we do regret the worse than folly 
of French art rulers from 1837 forward. 
There stood an artist, such as the centuries 
yearn for, clear-headed, firm-handed, ap- 
proaching the zenith of his power. He 
would have done for Paris in the interpre- 
tation of animal life, and of animal and 
human life combined also, what the masters 
of Greek art did for Athens. 

These lions and tigers, bears, deer, horses 
and dogs ; these eagles, storks and pheasants, 
crocodiles, serpents and turtles ; these flying, 
walking and creeping, wild and tame crea- 
tures from Lilliput are grand despite their 
diminutiveness. The modeling is always 
that of a master. Because they were little 
things of base price, they were not there- 
fore despicable in his eyes. He signed; 
them. He signed his candlesticks and ink- 
stands also. Go to his workshop, he is a 
master who knows better than his best 
workmen — for he has the broad compara- 


B A R Y E 

tive standpoint — every detail of the man- 
ufacture. Every product must satisfy 
him ; if imperfect, it must be melted over ; 
if his hand is needed in some mechanical 
detail, he puts on the green apron and 
shows his employes how the work should 
be done. 

From the financial side, the venture was 
not a success ; he supposed naively that the 
merit of his work would draw the public 
to him, but it did not. With a large de- 
pendent family, carrying a heavy debt ^ and 
harassed by creditors, forced, in order to 
satisfy them, to give them his models as se- 
curity, and knowing that inferior casts were 
being made from them and the models in- 
jured, not a free man in definite possession 
of his own until 1857, Barye walked for- 
ward unshaken. His work, his art, suffered 
not an iota. With Olympian calm he 
worked and awaited the justice of the slow, 
sure years. Arsene Alexandre says : '^ His 
friends never heard him utter complaints or 
cry out against the rigor or the folly of the 

Nor was the grand art, the monumental, 
altogether neglected. The "Theseus and 

* Incurred in order to establish a foundry. 



the Minotaur/' though still rather statuette 
than statue,^ is already Greek in its serenity, 
and belongs to the Grand Art. With 1847 
he sent forth from his atelier the '' Sitting 
Lion/' That was his first public answer in 
monumental work to the closing of the Salon 
doors. The answer was a complete one. 
It is the lion, the king, who is sitting there. 
We doubt if ever brute majesty has been as 
perfectly represented. Here all pettiness, 
all small lines, are effaced. Terrible in 
his conscious might, ord of the brute 
creation, he sits there as on his throne, 
looking forth to the ends of the world, and 
there is no life, winged or four-footed, 
that does not bow before the lion, the 
king. The State purchased it to make 
amends, it is said, for his failure to receive 
the commission to decorate the Arc de 
Triomphe, and placed it in the Garden of 
the Tuileries not far from the '^ Lion and Ser- 
pent.'' It was removed later, and now faces 
the Seine at one of the entrances to the 
Louvre. A pendant was desired, and Barye 
prepared a model (since cast), but his price 
was too high. A replica was made at the 
State's order by purely mechanical processes, 

* Original dimensions 47 centimetres in height by 31 in length. 


The Sitting Lion 


the Mir " rather statuet 

than 1 its serenity, 

Art. With 1847 

elier the " Sitting 

^ lie answer in 

Uic closing of the Salon 

er was a complete on 

, the king, who is sitting ther 

We doubt ii ever brute majesty has been as 

perfectly represented. Here all pettiness, 

all small lines, are effaced. Terrible in 

his cor might, ord of the brute 

creation, iJ^^4itlt^^lRlT&^s on his throne, 

looking forth to the ends of the world, and 

there is r ' ' * ' " footed. 

Arc de 
in tlie Uarden of 
r trom the ** Lion and Ser- 
pent/ It was removed later, and now faces J 
the Seine at one of the entrances to the 
Louvre. A pendant was desired, and Barye 
prepared a model (since cast), but his price 
was too high. A replica was mr ' the 

State's order by purely mechani 

47 centimetres ^1 lengtl 


B A R Y E 

the head turning to the right instead of the 
left. Barye was indignant, but had no re- 

M. Fremiet visited him in his studio in 
1846 when he had begun work on the 
'^ Lion." ^^All the Hues were fixed. The 
preparation was anatomical. All the im- 
portant bones of the skeleton were in place, 
each separately added, the skull, the verte- 
bral column, the cage of the ribs, the bones 
of the anterior and posterior members. . . .'' 

In a souvenir of artist gatherings, quoted 
by Dumesnil in his biography of Corot, we 
find Barye and Corot charmingly associated. 
" The thirteenth day of the month, which 
was in Rome that of the grand Ides of 
April, he (Corot) took part with our com- 
rades in the dedication of the ancient head 
of Jupiter Philios, protector of friendship 
. . . . the father of the profound and in- 
genious Minerva, of the laughing Venus, of 
Apollo and the adorable Muses, the toler- 
ant God, venerated by Pythagoras and 
Phidias, as much as by Homer and Or- 
pheus. An eloquent invocation was pro- 
nounced by one of the great-grandchildren 
of those who reared temples to him, and, 
meanwhile, two torches were held before 



the venerable image, the one borne by M. 
Barye, the other by Corot/' 

Arsene Alexandre describes a dinner which 
united regularly Barye, Corot, and a num- 
ber of their fellow artists. *^ They had the 
habit of defiling before a big [un grand dia- 
ble de^ Jupiter of the Vatican, whom all, 
united in the same antipathies, loaded with 
all the imprecations intended for the Insti- 
tute/' One of the events of every such 
gathering, awaited with curiosity, was 
Barye's turn. ^'Ha!'' Corot would cry 
gaily, " // ^ SU tres digne.'' 

Forty-eight came, and with it the revolu- 
tion. By it Barye lost and gained. His 
royal patrons were driven out of France, 
but the Salon doors were no longer closed 
to him. Of the commission of eleven, 
chosen by the artists to have charge of the 
sculptures of the Salon of that year. Rude 
was chosen first, Barye third. This was 
the day when the outstanding accounts of 
aggrieved artists were balanced in part. 
Barye, as Rousseau and Dupre, received or- 
ders from Ledru-Rollin, the all-powerful 
leader of the Republican party, now Min- 
ister of the Interior. At the suggestion of 
Charles Blanc, Director of the Beaux Arts, 


B A R Y E 

Barye's ^' Tiger '' of 1831 was purchased by 
the State, and Ledru-RolHn, furthermore, 
named him Conservator of the Gallery of 
Plaster Casts and Director of the Louvre 
Studio of Moulding. Until Barye's time, 
the position had been considered a business 
opportunity. The Louvre studios furnished 
duplicate casts for the European galleries. 
The moulds, purchased by the director, 
served as long as they v^ould hold together. 
How the interests of art and of public in- 
struction fared under such a regime may be 
imagined. Barye changed all this, put the 
best casts on turning-tables, made a choice 
of statues for reproduction, ordered new 
moulds, and surrounded himself with a 
corps of skilled workmen. 

Barye re-entered the Salon of 1850 with 
two works which represent the full maturity 
of his powers. The'* Centaur and Lapith,'' 
afterward called " Theseus Combating the 
Centaur Bienor," and the "Jaguar and 
Hare.'' Both are in the Louvre. Theo- 
phile Gautier said : '^ That Centaur, over- 
come by a Lapith, shows that Romanticist, 
proscribed by the Jury, to have been the 
modern sculptor who approached nearest 

to Phidias That Lapith of robust 



and simple forms, beautiful as the ideal, true 
as nature, could have figured in the pediment 
of the Parthenon .... and that Centaur 
have joined the cavalcades of the metopes.'" 

There are in the Louvre galleries to-day 
two bronze casts of antique sculpture — the 
originals are in the museum of the Capitol 
in Rome — representing centaurs, beside a 
marble group, "A Centaur Conquered by 
the Genius of Bacchus.'' The three are al- 
most identical in pose and in their main 
lines. There is a conventional model of the 
centaur, and these three statues are slightly 
varying copies of one original. The hind 
legs are near together, the right fore-leg 
raised and bent backw^ard. In the marble, 
the head also is curved backward, and the 
hands joined behind to express the subjec- 
tion of the half-brute to the child Bacchus, 
who bestrides it. One of the bronzes has a 
similar motif. The hands of the centaur 
are, however, bound instead of being clasped, 
and there is no child upon its back. There 
is a certain rude strength and a suggestion 
of a life of the woods about these antique 
sculptures, but of motion, of intense living 
in any form, there is slight trace. 

Cross the Louvre court and enter the 


oom where three of Bar 

1 placed side by side. 

and the two exhibits oi 
car, from the striking analogic 
and lines, that the "Centaur and Lapii 
Barye come after the antiques, but the half- 
brute of " ot their descendant. 
The lines an^ > are all stronger, 
nobler. The t placed f 
the right far torward. 
an ' ■ ce runnmg as tiic 
tren v.ii^i^ij. ^n^ ■\s^&in^o "^i 

has iit hi. 

Ths 1 in th 

on the tree crags, and the storm wint 
playmate. The tail stands up a 
•^ock of bristling hairs. You can 


tens. indyetthesp 

T'he e that aF master bestrides 

it. Ar . • of th 

pian iji 


the thu 

he Thesexis 
he left a mo 

The Centaur and Lapith 

B A R Y E 

room where three of Barye's masterpieces 
have been placed side by side. The ^^ Tiger" 
of 1 83 1 and the two exhibits of 185 1. It 
is clear, from the striking analogies in pose 
and lines, that the '^Centaur and Lapith" of 
Barye come after the antiques, but the half- 
brute of Barye is not their descendant. 
The lines and moulding are all stronger, 
nobler. The hind legs are placed far apart, 
the right far forward. That creature was 
an instant since running as the wind, and 
the forward impulsion of the whole body is 
tremendous, despite that violent arrest which 
has bent backwards the right hind pastern. 
That half-brute has its stall in the woods, 
on the free crags, and the storm wind is its 
playmate. The tail stands up a splendid 
shock of bristling hairs. You can read the 
whole story there : immense, shapely brute 
strength and suppleness, with every muscle 
tense to bursting, and yet the spirit cowering. 
The Centaur knows that a master bestrides 
it. And Theseus ! — he is one of the Olym- 
pians, serene, severe. His raised hand will 
strike but one blow, and that will crush as 
the thunderbolt.* 

*Both the Theseus groups were retouched during many years. 
Sometimes he left a model ten years before casting it. 



And now leave the Louvre, and taking one 
of the little Seine steamers, a swallow or fly 
{hirondelle or mouche^^ as you choose, visit 
the Jardin des Plantes, and stand before the 
cages where the great cats are confined, 
the lions, the Bengal tiger. Notice the 
grand savagery in the face, the packed mus- 
cularity of every part, the slip of the whole 
with every movement. What elasticity, 
backed by what projectile power ! It is as 
elusive as the sunset hues in the clouds, 
as the dance of light upon the forest 
carpet. What sculptor can seize that ? Re- 
turn to Barye's room in the Louvre and 
look at the ^^Jaguar devouring a Hare.'' If 
you put your hand upon the bronze, you 
will feel the slip of the muscles beneath the 
tense skin. Barye has missed nothing, 
neither the spring nor the strength. His 
jaguar is life, and the life of the forests, 
which is other than that of the cage, and is 
not an individual but a type. That is the 
new element which he has discovered and 
added, the immortal soul he has breathed 
into the bronze. And that is genius. 

We do not care to follow Barye the 
sculptor farther, step by step. He has at- 
tained immortal things already. He will 



And I d taking one 



>eiure the 
xsotice the 
u tiie tace, tJ 
ery part, the sUp oi tnc wnoie 
with every movement. What elastici^ 
backed by what projectile p 
elusi^ * -t hues m ciouas, 

-. the dance ot light upbr forest 

C3 What sculptor ca- ' c mat ? R 

t r, to P m in t,ne Louvre ana 

look at 


tiiai oi tn , ana 

dual but a typ 
new element which he has a ^*ca a 

ac^ ' ^he immortal soul 
into the bronze. And that 
We do not care to follow 
- farther, ste; 
tamed immortal th 

B A R Y E 

not advance. Not that advance were im- 
possible for him, but his years and strength 
are now in their full maturity. 

Barye had just finished a pendant to the 
"Centaur and Lapith" in the Louvre one 
day in 1850, when he received word to 
withdraw at once. The order to vacate 
was so sudden that Barye could think of no 
better way of removing his new model to 
his home on the other side of the Seine at 
the Montague Sainte-Genevieve, than to hire 
a hand-cart. He followed it, picking up 
the fragments of the clay, as they were 
broken off and thrown out by the jolting 
over the cobbles, and when the house 
was reached, there was nothing but frag- 
ments. He was named, we are told, as a 
sort of apology, professor of drawing at 
the agricultural school in Versailles, but the 
position was suppressed the following yean 
It meant nothing and probably was so 
treated by Barye. 

The "Jaguar" appeared in bronze at the 
Salon of 1852 and was purchased by the 
imperial house. The fourteenth of Octo- 
ber, 1854, Barye was named Professor of 
Drawing in Zoology at the Museum of 
Natural History at a salary of two thousand 



francs a year, raised in 1863 to two thou- 
sand five hundred francs. He held this po- 
sition until his death. He was also charged 
with the decoration of the pavilions, Denon 
and Richelieu, of the new Louvre. The 
chair at the Jardin des Plantes must have 
been a great gratification to him. There 
where he had come, untaught by the 
schools and refused at the Beaux Arts, to 
study directly from Nature when but an 
artisan, he came again thirty years later, 
recognized as a master in animal drawing. 
We are told that his teaching limited 
itself to such remarks as these : ^' Look 
at Nature and make your choice;'' 
"What shall one teach in presence of that 
(Nature) ? '' He was apt to forget himself 
en route and would be found standing before 
one of the cages. 

The action of the Jury of 1837 had sent 
Barye back to the workshop. We are 
tempted to think that, with that deep, 
silent determination which was the basis of 
his character, he resolved then and there, 
as a producer of these same little things, 
scorned at the time as of the jeweler's 
craft and genre works, to win at some 
future day complete brilliant recogni- 


B A R Y E 

tion. It came with the World's Exposi- 
tion of 1855. He was member of the 
Juries of admission and of awards ; he ex- 
hibited in the Section of Beaux Arts the 
"Jaguar" only, but placed in the Section of 
Industry a collection of his models. The 
International Jury unanimously awarded him 
the grand medal of honor in the Section 
of Art Bronzes, and he was thereafter named 
Officer of the Legion of Honor. When 
the Central Union of Beaux Arts applied 
to Industry was founded in 1863 he was 
named president, and in 1868 he was 
elected to the Academy of Beaux Arts. 

The public work of Barye's last period 
embraced the four groups for the two pavil- 
ions of the new Louvre ; the decoration of 
the pediment of the pavilion of the Hor- 
loge ; the equestrian statues of Napoleon 
I. for Ajaccio (Corsica), and a sim- 
ilar statue of Napoleon III. for the Porte 
du Carrousel — this last was torn down in 
1870 — also groups in stone for Marseilles. 
The most important of all are the groups 
in stone for the pavilions of Denon and 
Richelieu. They represent War, Peace, 
Strength protecting Labor, and Order pun- 
ishing the Perverse. 



The constituents are the same in every 
group, an animal (horse, bull, lion, tiger) 
reclines in the background, a man and a 
child occupy the foreground. These groups 
recall in their serenity and grand lines the 
**Theseus" of the Louvre galleries, and reveal 
a kinship with Greek sculpture/^ Barye 
does not seem himself to have been entirely 
satisfied, or he felt that his pow^c 
waning. He said one day on the scaf- 
folding before one of these groups, " They 
give me to eat when I have no more teeth,'' 
and similarly, later, referring to the Statue 
of Napoleon III., *^ I have waited all my 
life for customers and they come at the 
moment when I am closing the shutters." 

One of the most perfect of all Barye's 
single figures of animals is the *^ Lion walk- 
ing." It was cast in silver and given by the 
Emperor to the winner of the Grand Prix of 
1865. There was great excitement at the 
time. To the delight of all good French- 
men, the English horse was beaten and a 
Frenchman won the hundred thousand francs 
and the Emperor's gift. This lion is now in 
the possession of Mr. Walters, of Baltimore. 

* Guillaume considers the human figures here greater than in the 
two groups of " Theseus." 


i.v. v. 

.ife ' ^s^ 


b A K ij i '^ N D A Y S 


are the same in 


fVinr<^r_ hulL lion, ti^ 

man and 

These ^'^roui 

. . . ..e Louvre g. , md re 

with Greek sculpture.^' Bar) 
-m himself to have been entirely 
....,..^u, .. ne felt that his po\ 
waning. He said one day on the^ sca^ 
folding before one of these groups, '^ Th 
give me to eat when I have no more teeth 
and similarly, later, referring to the Stat. 
nf N;jnn1pnn III.,n^ have Waited all my 
^mer?; nrsd thev come at the 

the Grand Prix 
rreat excitement at t 
tip 1^ lu^ ^elight of all good Frenc 

mc.., .ue English horse was beaten and 
Frenchman won the hundred thousand frar 
and the Emperor's gift. This lion is n^ 
the pn?;*spc;pinn of Mr. Walters^, < 

B A R Y E 

Sylvestre, Barye's friend, describes him as 
he knew him at the zenith of his powers 
and reputation. ^^ He is of supple figure 
and above middle height ; his dress is mod- 
est and careful, his bearing and gestures are 
precise, tranquil, worthy; there is nothing 
dry or pedantic about him. His eyes vigi- 
lant, firm, look you always frankly, pro- 
foundly, in the face without provocation or 
insolence. The brow is losing its short and 
iron-gray hair; the nose is slightly turned 
up ; the parts of the face, of a vigorous 
squareness, are finely connected." 

" Barye looks at you, waits for you, listens 
to you with patience, and divines infallibly 
your thought. All his words hit the mark, 
but they seem to come forth with effort from 
his thin, strong lips, which are almost al- 
ways sealed by wisdom, for with him the 
love of silence is a virtue. Melancholy and 
pride breathe forth, escaping from the 
depths of his soul, and diffuse themselves 
over his clear and venerable face. That 
man, altogether superior, detests the lie and 
pomposity, avoids the full light, guards his 
mental strength for his work, fortifies his 
soul against adversity and follows the max- 
im, ' It is better to be than to appear.' He 



has never taken an ambitious step, never 
spoken a servile word, and there is no trace 
in him of that jealousy which infiltrates it- 
self like a poison in the heart of the artist 
and of the man of letters ; forgetting his 
own works, he takes pleasure in extolling 
those of others, and never needs to be in- 
formed by common report in order to rec- 
ognize merit. I do not know a contem- 
porary more ready than he is to hear that 
which is true, to exalt that which is beau- 
tiful. He carefully avoids talking, or listen- 
ing to talk about himself. You must draw 
words from him one by one, or else divine 
his impressions. You would believe him 
soured, an egotist, a dissembler; no, no; 
Barye is simply a strong, loyal and chaste 
nature, enemy of that chattering which is 
the curse of our time. He talks when it 
pleases him, with much wit and clearness, 
and he could rail in a biting way, but the 
most discreet irony suffices him. Pushed 
to the wall he would be implacable and ter- 
rible, as a man who places the right always 
on his side. A naif and profound observer, 
a great sculptor, a learned naturalist, a man 
sensitive and not sentimental, convinced of 
his own worth, without vanity, solid in his 


B A R Y E 

affections, despising his enemies to the point 
of forgetting them, very charitable toward 
others and severe toward himself, behold 
him ! " 

One who lived in close intimacy with 
him says that, while he was silent toward 
the world, alone with a comrade it was a 
different thing. ^^ He was an exhaustless 
talker, a sagacious and naif critic." It is 
clear, from the pictures drawn of Barye by 
those who had access to the innermost cir- 
cles of his friendship, that there (as for ex- 
ample in Rousseau's loft-studio at Barbizon 
during the years of fatness), the mute and 
reserved man became full of animation and 
sparkle. Yet the self-restraint and the sar- 
castic humor native to him did not even 
then altogether abandon him. 

The door admitting to his atelier was 
closed save to his most intimate friends. 
Those who entered found him working, 
sometimes alone, sometimes his wife was 
reading to him as he worked. M. Eugene 
Guillaume says: 

^' The atelier presented a unique spectacle. 
Models in clay and wax were upon the 
easels, casts still unfinished upon the tables 
with the tools near at hand; upon the wall 



were fastened numbered drawings and mod- 
els from Nature. The master, girt with his 
apron of worker in bronze, modeled, re- 
touched the plaster, chiseled, inserted parts 
in the vice, examining them under all as- 
pects and in every light, leaving nothing 
imperfect. His application was indefati- 
gable to the very end, and only when he 
had done his utmost did he sign his 
works." Roger Ballu describes his method 
of building up a figure: ^^Barye did not 
plant iron wires in the base of the model 
. . . He modeled the parts separately, 
one by one, in his hands, if they were not 
of considerable dimensions; on a table, if 
they were too heavy. When he had gath- 
ered all together, he sustained the parts by 
exterior supports or wooden props . . . 
His work, as some one has said, resembled 
a ship in process of construction with its 
rigging in place." He remained thus free 
to the end to make whatever changes 
seemed wise. Charles Blanc says that on 
entering his house, Quai des Celestins, *'you 
traversed a veritable museum and seemed 
to hear a great noise. In his studio you 
found a man calm, chary of speech and 
gesture, but of an expressive face slightly 


B A R Y E 

animated by a fine smile/' All agree in 
emphasizing Barye's insistent vigilance, 
holding his art always up to Nature. The 
portfolio marked ^^ Service," which con- 
tained his notes and numbered drawings, 
the results of his observations and measure- 
ments, was always within reach. In the 
Beaux Arts collection of his drawings, one 
can follow him through all stages, as he 
models the jaguar. He studied first the 
living model in the menagerie, then the 
skeleton in the museum, then he took a 
dead cat and, placing it in the position re- 
quired, modeled it. What wonder, when 
he saw a fine hare in the cook's market- 
basket, he borrowed it and sometimes for- 
got to return it. 

His contemporaries admitted his suprem- 
acy as sculptor of animals. But some of 
them said that he was only an animal sculp- 
tor and had no talent for representing the 
human figure. Barye felt the injustice of 
"the criticism and remarked with some bit- 
terness : " My brother artists, in relegating 
me to the beasts, have placed themselves 
below them." The two Theseus groups 
and those of the Louvre pavilions furnish a 
complete answer to these critics. 



As Michelangelo, with whom, in the 
spirit of his work and life, Barye showed 
kinship, he was painter as well as sculptor. 
His contemporaries knew only his water- 
colors. But he worked also in oils. These 
canvases, however, were tightly locked 
in an armoire at Barbizon. His work as 
painter, by the consenting verdict of all 
critics, exhibits the same qualities as his 
work as sculptor, "grandeur of aspect and 
intensity of life.'' But Nature was for him 
rather a setting for his animals, whose 
tawny and spotted coats he admired equally 
with their strong and supple lines. The 
sentiment of Nature, as a thing to be loved 
in and of itself, the poetry of the earth and 
sky, the brush work of that grand colorist, 
the sun, were not his to interpret. 

Charles Blanc says that his oil paintings 
show great vigor, character, and truth, and 
at a distance could be mistaken for canvases 
of Diaz, Decamps, Dupre, or Rousseau. 
The execution is not, however, as skilful. 
He excels only in water-colors, but he puts 
too much vigor into them. His skies do 
not agree with his earth, because he had 
never seen the skies of the tropics. Theo- 
phile Gautier adds, " The brush of the mas- 

[ 230 ] 

B A R Y E 

ter acquires the firmness of the boasting- 
chisel. You would say that it was made 
of a lion's moustache.'' 

Barye's Barbizon life is associated with 
his work as painter. His village home was 
a modest one, as modest as Rousseau's. 
He loved to escape thither and wander 
either alone about the forest or in the com- 
pany of his friends Dupre, Decamps, Rous- 
seau, Corot, Fran9ais. His great friend 
Millet lived there. The gorges of Fran- 
chart were a favorite hunting ground. He 
did not travel, and the forest must give him 
the skies and the settings of rocks and trees 
for his colored representations of animal life. 

Late in July we wandered through the 
forest to Barbizon, by the wood paths, a 
walk of fifteen to twenty miles. Twice 
roe-bucks crossed the path a stone's throw 
away. One turned at our call and looked 
at us for the space of many breaths. A 
large red doe, feeding just behind the fringe 
of trees, waited until we had passed. Two 
deer in spotted coat, disturbed by a crack- 
ling branch, bounded away. In the gloam- 
ing, you will often see the wood trio — stag, 
doe, and fawn — feeding in a wood path, or 
in the strip of grass-land on the forest edge. 



Wild boar are said to inhabit the wood. 
Rabbits and hares swarm multitudinous in 
the enclosed warrens and open fields until 
the chase opens. Occasionally a pheasant 
may be seen stalking across a square of 
ploughed land cut into the forest domain. 
Barye knew all the habitudes of this animal life 
of the forest of Fontainebleau. He saw too, 
in imagination, in the gorges of Franchart 
and Apremont the fierce life of the Indian 
jungles and African wilds. 

Heart disease came upon the stubborn 
worker toward the last and held him to his 
chair. ^ Corot's death was kept a secret from 
him. One day his wife, dusting the 
bronzes, remarked, ^^My friend, when thou 
art well, thou shouldst see to it that the 
signature of thy works be more legible.'" 
'' Be tranquil," answered the dying bpartan, 
'' twenty years hence they will search for it 
with a magnifying glass." 

* He died June 25th, 1875. 





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